As southeast Wisconsin struggles to stop the opioid epidemic, new help is available and a local mom was instrumental in getting it here.
"Heroin is the devil," said Alicia Burdick. "It eats away at your soul. It makes you somebody that you would never dream of becoming. It literally steals your life from you."
Burdick knew she had to get clean when she found out she was pregnant two years ago.
"I didn't really know where to go for help," Burdick said. "If you look online, it's really just a big mess of overwhelming info. You really need someone to help direct you."
Burdick's mother-in-law, Michelle Jaskulski, had that same helpless feeling when it came to getting her family help.
"I didn't know what to do," she says. "Just trying to navigate it on my own was really frustrating and difficult."
Jaskulski's world changed when she found out her two sons, Darrell and Kyle, had become addicted to pain pills, and then heroin.
"I'd go days at a time without even knowing if they were safe," Jaskulski said. "Unless you go through it, you can't even understand the depths of it. I was still in that shame and embarrassment. I didn't want to ask other people for a referral. I really had to figure out how to get the best help, on my own."
After years of different rehab programs and relapses, both Darrell and Kyle are living drug-free, but their mom's mission is far from over.
"I just knew there were other moms out there who felt like I did, and I wanted them to know they're not alone," Jaskulski said. "They're not a bad parent. It's not their fault. There is hope and help."
Jaskulski started working with the Addiction Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. - meeting with government leaders and helping get the organization's helpline to Wisconsin. It's basically a one-stop "shop" for addiction support. It provides one-on-one consultations with trained medical professionals and addiction specialists.
"They'll walk you through everything and help determine your best course of action," Jaskulski said. "They'll go through your insurance or payment situation, and tell you where help is available at that moment in your area. They give you options."
"It really is a miracle," said Burdick. "This helpline a huge step in fighting addiction. It will hopefully allow others to get their life back like I was able to do. It's hard work, but it's possible."
The helpline is 1-833-301-HELP (4357). It is active in Wisconsin from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Monday through Friday.