York County's heroin problem has reached epidemic proportions.
That's according to people on the front lines of a battle to raise awareness about a drug afflicting all walks of life.
"It doesn't matter how you were raised, how much money you have or what color you are. No one is exempt from being a heroin addict," said York-area resident Luci Fry, who watched several members of her family become hooked on prescription opiate painkillers, then switch to heroin when they could no longer afford to buy pills.
She and her friend, Hanover resident Tracy Lawrence, held rallies in June to spread the word about the problem — and lend support to those already painfully aware of it.
"I'm interested in getting to the people who don't know about (the heroin epidemic) or who think their kid would never do this," Fry said. "If you're not educated about it, how are you going to (recognize it) in your kids?"
The rallies were sponsored by Lawrence's group, Hope vs. Heroin, which she formed after losing her 20-year-old son Aaron to heroin in 2010.
"It's part of my therapy for grief, trying to help somebody else, because I know that's what Aaron would have done," she said.
We can use all the help we can get.
So far in 2014, the number of heroin-related deaths has eclipsed the 17 reported last year — and it's still rising.
There have been 26 confirmed deaths this year, according to Coroner Pam Gay said, and there are four more suspected heroin-related deaths her office is investigating.
The local trend mirrors what's happening across the country, which has seen a dramatic, 45 percent increase in heroin overdose deaths from 2006 to 2010, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
To combat the problem here at home, police and prosecutors are cracking down on drug dealers and suppliers, and they've teamed with Gay's office to form a heroin task force.
The focus of the task force, like Hope vs. Heroin, is education, spreading the word about a problem some people might not even notice.
Gay, Chief Deputy Coroner Claude Stabley and chief deputy prosecutor David Sunday will be the keynote speakers Saturday at another heroin information session, this time at Cross Roads United Methodist Church in Cross Roads.
We encourage people to attend the meeting — listen, ask questions, become a part of the discussion.
And, just maybe, they can become part of the solution.
The first step, however, has to be recognizing the problem.