Heroin Epidemic: Addicts help addicts in Akron

Posted at 9:39 PM, Aug 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 06:38:46-04

A simple flier, black and white, with thirty names and thirty phone numbers.

Offering help in the unlikeliest of places -- bathrooms and bus stops.

The "Heroin Help" initiative started by Steve Brennan in Akron just 30 days ago has already received more than 50 calls for help.

Six people have already been placed in treatment while others have been helped to recovery meetings.

Every name and number on the flier is a former addict. Some have been clean for a few months, some for 10 or 20 years.

In Brennan's case, he has been sober for 1 year, five months. For 25 years, off and on, Brennan said he struggled with alcohol abuse and addiction.

The first time he tried heroin, weaning himself off painkillers, he overdosed.

"I died. The ambulance came and it took three shots of Narcan to revive me and a needle in my chest," Brennan said.

"It's addicts helping addicts. They know what they've gone through, they know where they are at, they know how to speak to them," added Travis Bornstein, who started the nonprofit Breaking Barriers after his son died of an overdose.

The fliers have gone up in bathroom stalls at fast-food restaurants and gas stations -- places where Brennan said many addicts are likely to overdose.

Brennan hopes other communities will start their similar own grassroots effort.

"We don't have a magic wand, but we have some resources. We're able to share our experiences with them, our strength, and our hope," he said.