WILKES-BARRE -- It's been a long journey fighting through addiction for Cathy Ryzner. It took 30 years for her to let go of the drugs that could have taken her life.
“You think with all the publicity out there that it's killing people, but no, because your mind, it takes over your mind,” Ryzner said “Drugs will bring you to your knees. They will take hold of you and not let you go. By all accounts, I should not be here talking to you.”
Ryzner now works as a certified recovery specialist at Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services on Main Street in Wilkes-Barre. Hundreds walk through the doors looking for help before it's too late
“People went from the corner bar mentality to the drugs. There was always an alcohol problem; now we have a drug problem.”
Some aren't so lucky.
The Luzerne County coroner's office confirms 130 people have died from drug overdoses this year alone. There are 11 cases pending that will likely put the county over a sad overdose record.
Bill Lisman has worked in the coroner's office since the mid-1970s.
“When a drug overdose happened, it created a major news event and a major investigation,” said Lisman.
Now, the coroner's office had to add staff because of the growing numbers.
“The impact on the office financially has been extensive. We are now doing multiple autopsies on drug deaths,” said Lisman “A couple years ago, we had 50 screens at $275 each. This year, we will do 150.”
Ryzner believes there is hope for lowering that number and it starts at home.
“We need to educate these kids younger and younger 9, 10, 11. Do not be afraid to talk to your children on why you should not use drugs."
Wyoming County Alcohol Drug and Services urges people suffering and those who know people suffering from this disease of addiction to seek help.