The Rock County Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Task Force held its second annual Hope Over Heroin event at the Rock County Fairgrounds Wednesday evening. The goal of the program is to raise awareness about the heroin problem and provide resources for people struggling with substance abuse, as well as their family and friends.
“This is a large epidemic, and everybody does need to know about it so they can protect themselves, their family and their friends from becoming, I suppose, the next victim of an opioid abuse disorder,” said Erin Loveland, Janesville Mobilizing 4 Change director and member of the task force.
There were 30 booths set up at the event for services involving prevention, treatment and recovery. The night started with a resource fair followed by guest speakers. Presenters from local hospitals and police departments addressed the crowd. The crowd also heard from a former heroin addict.
“The more we get the word out there, the more we work together, the better our chances will be of success,” Loveland said.
The night ended with a candlelight vigil in honor of the people who lost their lives to overdosing. In 2016, more than 30 people in the county died from opioid abuse.
The Rock County Sheriff’s Office reports there have been 105 non-fatal overdoses in the county so far this year and 12 fatal overdoses.
“Heroin is very accessible here in Rock County,” Capt. Todd Christiansen said.
The Sheriff’s Office arrested 35-year-old Rayshaun Roach in Beloit Tuesday morning after finding 55 grams of fentanyl, $1,400 in cash and several handguns inside a home on Harvey Street. Roach faces several charges, including delivery and intent to deliver.
“We put a dent in the supply for a period of time,” Christiansen said. “We take this guy off the street. Hopefully, he will end up in prison, but it seems like there’s always someone coming in behind and taking over just because there’s a demand for it.”
Christiansen said to really get to the root of the problem, the area needs better treatment facilities for addicts.
“As long as there’s people out there willing to buy it, there’s going to be people willing to sell it, and it’s going to be around,” Christiansen said.