Tragedy stemming from addiction brings community together for call to action

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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — It took a tragic overdose death in Berkeley County, West Virginia for a citizens’ group call to action.

Paula Riggs of Berkeley County lost her teenage son, Ryan, to a heroin overdose.

“What I thought was going to kill me has become an inspiration to help others,” said Riggs.

From social media posts with others who lost loved ones, Paula became a crusader to fight the addiction crisis. Her group, Not One More West Virginia, wants to rally the community to help those struggling with addiction by promoting treatment programs and community education.

Melissa Triggs knows Paula from similar circumstances. Her sister was on a pain medication that ran out.

“She tried heroin one time,” Triggs explained. “One time was all it took. And she was hooked for years.”

Living in the I-81 corridor makes Berkeley County more vulnerable to drug traffickers, said Triggs. Among her “Not One More West Virginia” circle, the interstate is referred to as the “Heroin Highway.”

“The dealers? You know, they don’t care who they’re hurting. “They don’t care. They don’t love you. They don’t care about you. As long as you are still putting money in their pocket, that’s all they’re worried about,” said Triggs.

From their family experience, they want everyone to know how important it is to intervene. It may be an overused phrase, they say, but it really does take a village.

“It’s all about supporting the families that don’t know where to turn because when Ryan was actively addicted, I didn’t know where to go,” said Triggs.

Not One More West Virginia will rally this Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at War Memorial Park in Martinsburg.

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