Over the past few years, stories of heart break, struggle, frustration and loss all stem from one thing: heroin.
Stories of kids who had everything going for them until they got their hands on heroin. Stories of young moms who have chosen their addiction over their children. Stories of parents who did everything they could to help their kids stop using, only to lose them.
Tony McGraw remembers the day she learned her 20-year-old daughter Marissa had died.
"It's not really describable. I knew. I already knew when I got the call," McGraw she said in an interview last year.
In 2013, Justin Phillips' son, Aaron, died of heroin overdose.
"[He was] really smart, big heart, always cared about the other person," Phillip said. "Was always the friend of kind of the underdog. You would see him on the side of the football field patting his teammates on the back and encouraging them."
He had tried to recover, but admitted that he could not stop without help.
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Chuck Campbell's 22-year-old son died two years ago from a heroin overdose.
“He would always tell me it was heroin. Lie to me the day that he was on it, but then tell me three or four days later that it was heroin, and at the time, I would just tell him straight up, ‘You’re not on heroin, heroin’s not here. It’s not here. You’re lying to me, you’re on something else. Xanax, maybe, something, but it ain’t heroin.’ A couple years later, he died from it," he said.
A special report compiled by the state in 2013 found drug overdoses increased five-fold since 1999, surpassing the number of motor vehicle traffic-related deaths in 2008.
Opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, contributed to 16 percent of the 1,049 drug overdose deaths in 2013. The number of heroin overdoses increased 2.4 times from 2011 to 2013.
The drug does not discriminate. Hamilton County leads the State of Indiana in education, wealth and median household income. It also ranks ninth in the state for the number of heroin overdoses and overdose deaths, and fourth in opioid-related overdoses.
“My son who lives in Fishers, who grew up in Fishers,16 friends have died due to drug overdoses. And we’ve been to 13 funerals. And he’s just 24,” said Gina Bardach, Co-Founder of Hope Overcoming Heroin said in an interview last year.
The county has seen a 45 percent increase in heroin-related deaths, which has prompted them to issue Narcan to deputies.
"Every day, this crisis touches and devastates Hamilton County residents from every background and walk of life," Chief Deputy Tom Gehlhausen said.
Narcan is a drug that is administered to somebody having an opioid overdose, like heroin, morphine or codeine. It can block the effects of an overdose, possibly saving somebody's life. Police departments across the state are being equipped with the drug
In 2015, the Indiana Legislature passed "Aaron's Law," allowing anyone to get Narcan at a pharmacy and legally administer.
The law is named after Justin Phillip's son. She continues to spread awareness and access to Narcan, so that other mothers don't have a story like hers.
See how much heroin has taken its toll on Indiana in just the past year alone in our interactive map below:
Here's a look at the CDC's stats on the rise of drugs effects in Indiana and across the country (Click here if it doesn't load):
SPECIAL SECTION: Heroin in the Heartland
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