MERCER, Pa. (WKBN) – Drug addiction has been a continuing epidemic for years in Mercer County but on Monday night, those with loved ones suffering from addiction gathered for an open forum.
Almost 100 people came to St. Bartholomew’s church center to learn, console and mourn.
“The goal tonight is to bring as much awareness to this Valley as possible. This Valley is saturated with drug activity,” said Gloria Macklay with the Mercer County Coalition for Drug Awareness (MCCDA).
Macklay started MCCDA to help her granddaughter, Haley, who suffered from addiction in the past.
“There were so many sleepless nights of not being able to breathe, to sleep, because I didn’t know where she was and it’s been frightening,” Macklay said.
So Macklay began researching addiction.
“I didn’t understand that this was a disease. I didn’t understand how to deal with this addiction,” she said. “I want to bring more information to people so they don’t have to deal with those sleepless nights.”
Two years later, Macklay is helping others get the information that she needed then. People at the forum wrote down questions on cards to be read anonymously.
Patricia Bobie lost her son nearly three years ago to a heroine overdose. These meetings, she says, are all about making sure that what happened to her doesn’t happen to others.
“I always thought it was an addiction, and it’s a disease. When people start to use, yes, it is an addiction but once they are using, it is very hard to withdraw from and that’s when it becomes a disease,” Bobbie said.
Macklay said that addiction can be difficult for people to fully understand.
“Unless you’ve been there, done that or been through, people just don’t understand.”
MCCDA hopes the next meeting will bring even more people in an effort to combat the stigmas surrounding addiction.