MARLTON, N.J. (CBS) — As Halloween approaches, the decorations at Suzanne Harrison’s home serve as a reminder she and her sister Anne no longer have their brother King to help greet the trick-or-treaters.
“I can’t believe it’s been a year I haven’t seen him, talked to him, hugged him,” says Harrison of Marlton.
On Oct. 29, 2016, just days before his 50th birthday, King Shaffer died of a heroin overdose—a lethal batch laced with fentanyl.
“He overdosed in my home, I found him, that is something that you never forget,” says Anne Gutos, King’s older sister.
Like so many who die of heroin, his addiction started with opioid painkillers.
He started taking the medicine after a wave runner accident.
This year Harrison, Gutos and their mother, Judy DiGiacomo, launched a crusade to help other victims of opioid abuse and their families.
They call it King’s Crusade.
“You know he could be alive and so many could be alive,” says Gutos.
According to experts, one of the biggest issues is there aren’t enough resources to treat the growing number of addicts.
“We’re talking about people dying in droves,” says Louise Habicht who lost her son John to heroin 17 years ago.
She helped found the Parent to Parent drug abuse help network in South Jersey 20 years ago.
She says without insurance addicts have very few options.
“We’ll say what kind of insurance do you have? Do you have anything? They’ll say no, or Medicaid maybe. Okay we can get you into detox right away but then we’re not sure about treatment,” explains Habicht.
Experts say there needs to be many more facilities for addicts to get immediate and long-lasting treatment, in other words much more money to join the crusade.
They are hopeful President’s Trump declaration this week that the opioid abuse epidemic is a national Public Health Emergency will be the first step in a comprehensive package to create more resources to combat addiction.
To learn more about King’s Crusade CLICK HERE.