BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KSDK) – Authorities are investigating whether four overdose deaths in five days in the metro east are all linked to heroin. Three of them happened last week in Madison County. The latest happened Monday in Belleville.
Authorities say the deaths are just the latest casualties of an epidemic. One recovering addict turned activist says the only way to fix the problem is through treatment, but at this point it's only getting worse. That activist, Chad Sabora, helped found the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery. He started his mission after coming clean from heroin, the drug that nearly killed him.
"It turns into this uncontrollable raging obsession that pretty much takes away our will power," he said.
Chad was a prosecuting attorney when his addiction to pain killers was no longer enough, and he turned to heroin.
"Once I switched over to banging dope, my life revolved around that world," he said.
He lost his job, his home, and his relationships.
"There comes a point where you can actually see yourself and realize through the mask of all that denial and perception that you are that horrible person everybody says that you are. Once I saw that in the mirror, I went to rehab the next day," Chad said.
He's now more than two-and-a-half years clean, and he's made it his mission to help others deal with addiction. He's pushing Missouri lawmakers to pass a 'good samaritan' bill like the one Illinois passed in 2012. It would allow users to call for help in case of an overdose without getting in trouble for possession.
"They're gonna want to stop, I can promise you that. Nobody can bang dope for the rest of their lives and be happy, it's a miserable life. But they shouldn't have to die just because they made some bad choices," Chad said.