Local family affected by Opioid epidemic hoping to help others - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local family affected by Opioid epidemic hoping to help others

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An eastern Iowa family is giving us an emotional perspective on the destructive toll that drug abuse can take.

The epidemic of Opioid addiction is in the spotlight across the country and hitting close to home. Family says 24-year-old Nic Shonka of Independence had a silent problem with Vicodin which lead to heroin.

Sadly, Nic died earlier this year and now his family is sharing their story, hoping to help and educate others on this national crisis.

His mother Kim Shonka says, "I think about my son as this vibrant young boy and so full of life, that there's no way in heck that he would have ever ended up where he did...but it did happen, and so now we are going to try to help it not happen to someone else."

Like many addicts, Nic was able to hide it from his family and his girlfriend of five years.

His girlfriend at the time Alyssa Wiest says, "He was able to live a pretty normal life while using, so it was hard. I was always questioning whether he was using or not."

The family had suspicions that something was going on.

"Kinda fumbling around and trying to communicate with us, talking to us while falling asleep," Kim says. Ultimately, his family admits they were in denial.

His sister April Dorman says, "How do they have access to something so hard? Not my brother, not her son, not this young boy who has so much potential."

Then the phone call came in February, Nic died from heroin mixed with fentanyl. 

"He could have been something more, but he just got lost in this epidemic we are facing," Kim says. 

The family is sharing their story to raise awareness that there is help out there. They recently joined a brand new community group led by Pathways Behavioral Services called  "CRUSH" which stands for Community Resources United to Stop Heroin.

Kim says, "I want people to feel like they are not being judged, that they are worth something, they are somebody and there are people out there to help because they all deserve a chance."

Hoping to help others fight this crisis, in loving memory of Nic. 

From his journal, he wrote about his addiction saying, "Anyone coming up on their bottom, I am here to talk sense. I don't know what you have done, or who you done it to, or what you did it for, but if you are here, I am here."

For more on CRUSH and treatment centers, visit Pathways website: www.pathwaysb.org/ and contact Jackie Preston. 

Next Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., CRUSH and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is putting up drug drop-off stops for potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. 

Bring your pills for disposal to one of the sites listed below:

-Waterloo at Greenwood Drug, 2104 Kimball Avenue

-Cedar Falls Police Department, 220 Clay Street, Cedar Falls

-Bremer Co. Waverly Public Library, 1500 W. Bremer, Waverly

-Buchanan Co. Sheriff’s Office, 210 5th Ave. NE, Independence

-Parkersburg Unity Point Health Clinic at 502 3rd Street, Parkersburg 

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