DES MOINES, Iowa -- "Matt didn't want to die," said Lori Anderson of Johnston. "He wanted to get high." Anderson says that's true of other young people she knows who have died from a heroin overdose since her son Matt died of one last year. Anderson is part of a group of parents who get together, all of whom have lost a child to addiction.
"Des Moines shouldn't have to have parents that come together under that common thread," said Anderson. "...It's sad and more needs to be done to change and bring some awareness."
That's what Anderson is hoping to do by speaking out about what addiction can rob people of, like her son's talent.
"He placed second in the nation for pitching accuracy, for AAU," said Anderson. "He just had so much potential that, it was, it`s really sad."
That was when Matt was 12 years old, and a star in baseball. Years later he would battle with addiction; a battle he ultimately lost at the age of 28.
"He just could not get it together," said Anderson. "He just you know, it was a struggle after a struggle, after a struggle. And no matter what we did, we could`t work harder than he was."
House of Mercy in Des Moines is on the frontlines of the fight, offering treatment to people who are struggling with substance abuse.
"The situation is growing in severity," said Rebecca Peterson, Director of House of Mercy. "So, we`re seeing increased numbers of opioid use disorders, clients who are using heroin, IV users are increasing and so we are taking an approach of really how can we prevent this from becoming an all-out crisis in Iowa?"
And one way that House of Mercy has tried to do prevent overdoses is with Naloxone, a medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose.
"We were able to train some of our clinical managers, on train the trainer," said Director Peterson. "And since then, we`ve been able to train 90% of our staff here on how to use the Naloxone and how to educate family, friends, loved ones, on how to administer it as well."