HAMILTON, Ohio - HAMILTON, Ohio -- Dozens of recovering heroin addicts, plus friends and family, rallied Friday to empower each other to help fight the plague of addiction that took dozens of lives in Butler County last year.
“It’s everywhere, believe me,” said Jesse Sander. “If you think it's not there, it's there. If you think that it's not in your neighborhood, you're wrong.”
Sander said he hit rock bottom just 39 days ago.
”The hardest thing is telling somebody that you have a problem, but then when you do, they look away,” he said. “They don't understand that it's a really, really big problem and it's really, really hard to stop.
“A lot of people are embarrassed about it.”
But Sander's mother, Candy Abbott, wasn't embarrassed to help her son get clean.
“I am on cloud nine. I have my son back and I am not letting go,” she said. “I'm taking this fight from now until forever.”
Abbott organized Friday’s rally to raise awareness about heroin addiction in Hamilton.
Last year, Hamilton saw 100 overdoses. One-third of those were due to heroin.
Those who have worked to stay clean say they hope their stories inspire others to act.
”IV users, heroin addicts, junkies, people that we look down on, they do recover, too,” said Amy Wright. “I can stand here saying that I was one of those people and I am healthy now and I have trust and family and I have love.”
“This disease has affected everyone. It's affecting the entire community and world. We don't have to surrender anymore to the enemy,” said Christa Webb. “We can love unconditionally the people who are dying from this disease.”
“I hope people see me and they ask for help,” Sander said. “It's really hard, but if you don't ask for help, you're not going to get help.”
The group said they plan to hold several more rallies.