Family lost son to heroin, tries to help others - WNEM TV 5

Family lost son to heroin, tries to help others

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MIDLAND, MI (WNEM) -

It destroys families, friendships and livens.

Drug addiction affects tens of millions of Americans and in Mid-Michigan heroin is a growing problem.

On Thursday night there was a summit held involving police, leaders and families deeply affected by the drug.

Susan Hanley's necklace tells a story of the cherished memories she had with her son and heartbreak she's now left with.

"We tried tough lough and obviously that didn't work," Hanley said.

Zack Spaulding struggled with heroin addiction for more than three years. He was in and out of rehab trying to get right, but in January 2013 Spaulding chased the high and it was deadly.

"He still had the needle in his arm," Hanley said.

Some of his remains are kept in the urn around his mother's neck. His family is torn by his death. He was only 27-years-old.

"Every day it goes through your head, it really does. It just eats you alive and you fake through life right now just to put on a smile and tell everybody everything's OK, you know," said Terry Hanley, lost son to heroin.

The Hanleys shared Spaulding's story to a full auditorium at Dow Memorial Library in Midland. They joined experts and other grieving families to shed light on a very serious problem killing people in Mid-Michigan.

"The more destigmatize the addiction issue the better it's going to be for our community to attack what has become almost an epidemic level," Midland County Judge Michael Beale said.

Three people died from heroin overdose this year in Midland. There's been more than 60 heroin related 911 calls.

"We know there are families going through the same situation and we don't want them to hide behind their doors. We want to be able to help them, listen to them, hug them, let them scream at us because we know the pain they're going through," Terry Hanley said.

The Hanleys said they chose to turn their personal tragedy into something positive. 

"We just want to help another family, if we can, get through what we're fighting, what we're going through. We hate it. I hate heroin," Susan Hanley said.

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