this Aug. 11, 2016 photo, Sherri Smith holds an early
photo of her twin sons, Jesse and Tony Sparks during
an interview in Madison, Wis. Both eventually died as
a result of accidental drug overdoses, Tony in 2005 at
age 23, and Jesse in July of this year at age 34.
Some people who have lost loved ones to drug addiction are
speaking out in obituaries as heroin and prescription opioid
abuse continue to cause a rising toll of fatal overdoses in
Wisconsin and across the nation.
replacing vague phrases such as "died suddenly at
home" with revealing details in hopes of decreasing the
stigma of addiction and urging others to get treatment, the
Portage Daily Register (http://bit.ly/2beQ2Vg
Portage resident Sherri Smith's son, Jesse Sparks, 34, died
from a drug overdose in Madison on July 25, his obituary
said that he died "after fighting a courageous battle
with heroin addiction."
obituary also said that substance abuse isn't something to
be ashamed of or to hide, but that it's a disease that
should be discussed and fought by the community.
need to be educated about addiction," said Smith, who
is in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. "It's
not a choice. It's a disease."
this Thursday, June 16, 2016 photo, following an
interview in Madison, Wis. Michelle Hagenbaugh, left,
and her mother, Amy Campbell-Andrew, share a moment
after discussing the recent death of their daughter
and sister, Alyssa Hagenbaugh, who died in May at age
25, apparently from a heroin overdose.
Wilcox, 27, also died from an apparent heroin overdose in
Madison on Aug. 6. His obituary asked for memorial donations
to go to the Parent Addiction Network of Dane County.
been very open about it," said Patty O'Rourke, Wilcox's
mother. "We need to talk about it."
47,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2014,
a 14 percent increase in fatal opioid overdoses from 2013.
About 10,500 of the deaths in 2014 were from heroin.
this Aug. 11, 2016 photo, Sherri Smith reflects on the
loss of her adult twin sons, Jesse and Tony Sparks,
who both died of apparent drug overdoses in Madison,
Wis.. Tony passed away in 2005 at age 25, and Jesse in
July at age 34. A small memorial to the men, including
the urns containing their ashes, is displayed on a
table at her mother's home.
overdose deaths more than doubled in Wisconsin from 2004 to
2014. The state had nearly 850 such deaths in 2014, more
than 620 of which were from opioids, including nearly 270
part of my nature, to educate," said Amy
Campbell-Andrew, whose daughter, Alyssa Hagenbaugh, died in
in Madison in May at age 25 from an apparent heroin
overdose. "If it sparks a family conversation about
drugs at an early age, that is our goal."