A new group in Onondaga County is fighting the heroin epidemic.
The program, called H.E.A.L of Onondaga County, has sister groups already at work in Madison and Cayuga Counties, but organizers like Dennis Gregg wanted to expand.
That’s because almost five years ago, Gregg’s life changed forever.
“My stepdaughter was actually, frankly, delivered dead to St. Joe’s Hospital of a heroin overdose,” Gregg explained. “She was put on life-support, Narcan didn’t work, it was a miracle she was able to be put on life support.”
That support would save his 24-year-old stepdaughter Holland’s life, but things are still hardly back to normal.
That prompted Gregg to take a stand.
“Unfortunately, she’s been in a brain injury treatment center for the last three years,” he explained. “Between that and my own personal journey, I became aware of this epidemic, and the fact that it’s infiltrated so many communities. I just wanted to do something about it.”
He is a large part of the reason H.E.A.L of Onondaga exists in Onondaga County.
Gregg wants people to recognize the problem of addiction, and eliminate the social stigma that surrounds it.
“These are things that we need to treat as the disease that they are and not as a moral failure or life choice of some sort,” he said.
H.E.A.L of Onondaga will host its first awareness walk on Saturday, May 12th. It starts in front of Syracuse City Hall at 10:00 in the morning.
Gregg and other organizers hope it will bring together recovering addicts, family members, and anyone else who has been impacted by the epidemic to show those struggling that they are not alone, there are people who care, and people who can help.