Hooked to Death - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Hooked to Death

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- This is the face of a young woman who had the world in her hands. Popular, beautiful, athletic, smart, from a good home.

This is also the face of a heroin addict.

Rachael Schlingmann had dreams of becoming a psychologist.

But she never achieved that dream.

Rachael's mother Sharon Schlingmann said the most devastating thing for a parent is to lose your child. 

Rachael is now dead. Heroin killed her four months ago. And now her mother, Sharon, is left with a broken dream of her own.

"She was my only child. I'll never have grandchildren. Those things break my heart. Every day is a struggle," Schlingmann said. 

Rachael died of the accidental overdose August 10. She had already gone through treatment. She had support of friends and family. This wasn't supposed to happen.

"Rachael isn't that dumb, but I didn't realize how heroin could grab you like that," Schlingmann said.

Rachael's death comes at a time when heroin use in on the rise in the region, with overdoses increasing. Heroin arrests in the area are up 109 percent. Heroin-related seizures are up 699 percent over the previous year.

"The heroin coming into the Rochester area is extremely strong," said Tim Volz, a licensed alcohol and drug counselor with EmPower in Rochester. Volz said heroin is the new drug of choice for young people. It's cheap. It's readily accessible. And the high is out of this world.

"It's becoming an epidemic. And it's starting with prescription pain pills. To powder. Snorting the heroin, to injecting it with needles," Volz said. 

"Once you start this, you can't stop. Rachael said, the devil's got my soul, mom. He won't let go," Schlingmann said. 

The twist in Rachael's death is this: it's saving lives today. Sharon's mission is to let parents know heroin is in our community. It's taken root. And it could take your child, too.

Sharon recently took part in a recovery walk in Rochester. And it's already made an impact.

"I know several people that day went into treatment. I know of 13 that have," Schlingmann said. 

Thirteen young people who might now go down the fatal path Rachael did. Thirteen families that won't have to go through the pain Sharon and hers have.

"How many 22-year-olds will it take for them to overdose before we figure it out?" Volz asked.

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