U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer hosts Town Hall meeting at Lynn University regarding drug epidemic

Posted at 8:11 PM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 00:03:12-04

The Department of Justice designated the week of September 18-24 as National Heroin and Opioid Awareness week.

The Obama Administration also announced a “week of action” to raise awareness about the rising public health crisis caused by drug overdoses.

On Thursday, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer hosted a Town Hall meeting at Lynn University.

"The heroin and opioid epidemic is the most urgent challenge that we face in the public health arena,” Ferrer said.

He said not one agency can fight the problem alone, which is why officials from across south Florida came to Thursday’s event.

Palm Beach County’s State Attorney, Dave Aronberg, served as a moderator at the event.

"We're in the midst of a heroin epidemic. 580 people each day start heroin for the first time,” he said.

Aronberg said that there are twice as many heroin users today compared to figures seen five years ago.

"A lot of people think that this can not affect them, that it can never happen to them, until it does,” Aronberg said.

Gaynelle Gosselin knows about the problem all too well.

Her mother died from an addiction to alcohol and her son got hooked on prescription painkillers when he was only 13-years old.

"You'd have to be under a rock somewhere to not know there is an addiction crisis,” Gosselin said.

She said she was terrified when she learned her son was using opioids, and joined secret Facebook groups to get help.

Gosselin said it was difficult to find a place for her son to get treatment and ended up sending him to several states and treatment centers over the course of three months.

“It was hard at thirteen to send your kid to treatment, but I had to look at the alternative. He was going to die if I didn’t.”

She said her son still struggles with his addiction. She hopes changes will be made to help fight the problem and make it easier for users to get help.

"This can happen to anybody, it does happen to everybody. It doesn't make you a bad person,” Gosselin said.

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