The heroin epidemic is widespread across Maryland and being described as cheap, powerful, plentiful and probably in your backyard but let’s face it, this isn’t a new topic but a local group that’s fighting back is.

“I wish we could be talking about the orioles or the nationals game right now. This is a tough subject that we’re here for tonight,” said Corey Hassett, a recovered opiate addict.

Corey is from Berlin and he says speaking in anonymous meetings is easy but this gathering Tuesday night was anything but anonymous. It was a meeting of Worcester County Warriors Against Opiate Addiction and Hassett’s family sat in the audience. He says it’s the first time he’s talked about his addiction to them and he admits it’s one of the hardest things he’s ever done.

Hassett says he thought he had kicked his long term addiction until a doctor prescribed him opiates after a surgery – that’s when he hit rock bottom. Sharing those kinds of experiences is part of what this group is all about.

“I remember the first meeting when one by one more people started coming in and my husband said, look at you you’re sobbing,” said Heidi McNeily, the founder of the organization. “I was in tears just to know that there’s this huge need out here but that there’s so much response in the community to do something about this.”

Heidi says this all evolved from her journey with her son, who is a recovering opiate addict. She says she realized there wasn’t a group to turn to for help or resources so, she put flyers around the community hoping for 10 people to show for her event this spring. 50 people showed. Then at the next one 300, including officials from the drug task force.

“I remember him saying that he had been in a lot of counties and never ever had he seen a response like he saw that night,” said Heidi.

Just under a hundred people attended Tuesday’s meeting, which opened the floor to not only community members and ex addicts, but also to community leaders who all said they were happy to have the opportunity to connect with everyone on an issue that is often hard to talk about. But as Corey Hassett says, they’re already seeing results.

“I actually work at a treatment center in port St. Lucie Florida now and I’ve come back here just to tell my experience in hopes that it will help someone else out in the community,” said Hassett.

For information on community outreach Corey recommends reaching out to the Worcester Warriors against Opiate Addiction’s Facebook page.

Corey also recommends reaching out to him via email at [email protected] or telephone 310-237-5307.