Starting the conversation about Heroin and drug abuse

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Tests have confirmed Heroin was in some of the dozens of plastic bags in the New York City apartment where Phillip Seymour Hoffman was found dead on Sunday.

Health experts call this tragedy a teaching moment. They say Heroin is a growing problem in Western Wisconsin and this illustrates the danger of what can happen when someone is addicted.

"It's like a monkey on your back that turns into a great ape and it's just no way to live," said Jesse, who preferred to be referred to by first name. He is recovering from a Heroin addiction.

It is a drug so powerful it grabs hold of you and does not want to let go.

"Imagine the worst flu you've had in your life times 50 and the withdrawals of the beast and I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy to go through a day like that," he said.

It cost Jesse his house and more. An expense that kept adding up.

Finally he had enough and sought treatment three weeks ago. But his story of addiction is more common than you may think.

Lieske Giese with the Eau Claire County Health Department says in its last survey of middle school and high school students in Eau Claire County, 130 admitted to having used Heroin before.

Giese says now is the time to have a conversation about the drug, using the latest death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a starting point.

"We absolutely can use this is a moment to say, did you see that? What did you think about it?"

Brenda Goettl, an AODC Counselor at the LE Phillips Libertas Center agrees and says this is a real problem that happens to real people.

"These are normal people that never had trouble before," she said.

"It all starts at some substance abuse level and it continues on," said Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer.

Jesse chose another path. He has seen people come through the doors at the treatment center before but knows he has taken a big step getting help.

"It will be the best thing, you'll never regret it, you'll never regret getting help," he added.

Giese recommends reaching out to a healthcare provider, health department or a treatment center if you know someone who is struggling with an addiction.

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