Recovering heroin addicts speak out on epidemic

The president is making opiate abuse a priority, and it can't come soon enough for addicts in the Chicago area. Five have died in the past week.

- The president is making opiate abuse a priority, and it can't come soon enough for addicts in the Chicago area. Five have died in the past week.

“I overdosed. My mother found me in my bedroom upstairs, I guess the paramedics came and they used Narcan, revived me. I don't have any recollection of this,” said recovering addict Jan Pyszka.

Pyszka, 30, has been using heroin for 10 years and was first introduced to the drug as an undergrad.

“I was at Loyola in Chicago and it was one of the students there that was using and I was at a party or something like that and that's how it started,” Pyszka said.

He considers himself lucky to be alive and is now on his way to a treatment facility out of state.

Kurt Scheitler is also in recovery. He’s one-year and 22 days clean.

“30 plus people in the time that I’ve been in and out of recovery…30 people have died?...and 7 people that I’ve known personally this year alone and it's not even April,” Scheitler said. 

Heroin is all around us, like it or not. Needles are discarded in our neighborhood parks.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says more than 4 million Americans have tried heroin at least once.

Addicts and advocates say this is an uphill battle.

“People in Springfield, what's it going to take? When is it that we going to have enough?” Advocate Mike Young said.

Their problem? State funded drug treatment centers are shutting their doors, thanks to the budget stalemate.

Young says there are still some emergency treatment centers or medical detox open, but those only last a few days.

“While you are in there for five days, we are trying to get you into long term residential. Well, the waiting lists are 8-10 weeks long. Well, in that 8-10 weeks, we are watching people die,” Young said.

He says while the centers are closing their doors more and more people are dying due to the disease.

Pyszka doesn't want to be one of them.

“Sometimes there's not a lot of hope, but that's when you get other people that hope for you. Yeah I’ve got a little bit of hope left - I’ve got a little bit,” Pyszka said.

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