More people are dying from opioid overdoses than gun violence in Cook County. In 2016, 805 people were shot and killed. That same year, more than one-thousand people overdosed on opiates.
Two years ago, FOX 32 pulled back the curtain on opioid addiction and put a spotlight on the growing epidemic. We introduced you to a group of hope crusaders, in recovery themselves and fighting hard to get others into treatment.
Since then, some of have stumbled and almost didn't live to tell their stories.
“I knew that when he was cooking heroin, I could see the color changing in the cotton and I knew I was in trouble,” said Mike Young who relapsed last summer.
“I got arrested with 7 bags of heroin that was it...it was over,” said Jason Beaty who will be one year clean at the end of this month.
Beaty went to help someone and in a split second - his nearly 2 years of sobriety came crashing down. He used and was arrested and hospitalized and then he overdosed.
“My son came to check on me and I wasn’t responsive or anything, so my 14-year-old son had to kick down the bathroom door,” said Beaty.
Young was a new father, with a fiance and a new job in California. He says he broke from the pressure of not being able to save people including some who were part of our coverage two years ago.
Young says he just wanted to die. He typed in a couple of key words on Craigslist and hours later he was using heroin.
“Whatever little money I had I used up, I had no shoes I was walking around barefoot,” he explained.
Both Young and Beaty were saved by first responders using Naloxone.
There are stories of redemption. Kurt Scheitler has remained sober for more than three years since first speaking with us in 2016.
He says it wasn't easy watching his fellow advocates relapse, but this time there wasn't that addictive tug he's felt before.
“I don’t struggle with not using, it’s just not a thought or feeling that's there anymore,” said Scheitler.
Today they take it one day at a time, maintaining their own recovery and helping others.
All three just trying to make a dent in this deadly opioid epidemic.