You have to have been living in a cave or on a desert island for the last decade to not be aware of the opioid crisis in our country. But for most people, understanding it and the devastation it is causing, is an elusive goal, at best.

In the 1970s when heroin use was at its peak, heroin dealers and users showed up in our living rooms and theaters, in movies and TV series, as denizens of dark alleys, rundown homes, and apartment buildings in cities. These desperate, dirty, drug-addled humans, powerless to resist the short-lived euphoria the drug offered, couldn't possibly exist in small-town America.

Of course, they did then, and with the resurgence of heroin beginning around the year 2000, they do now. But they aren't the people you imagine. They are parents, physicians, business people, teenagers, service men and women, the person in the cubicle next to you, the grocery clerk, your waitress, or maybe, your next-door neighbor.

All ages, both genders, and every economic level can claim their share of opioid addicts. Here in Sioux Falls, this has been brought home to us in a very powerful and painful way with the death of Emily Groth, age 21, in May of 2018. The 2015 O'Gorman graduate was a beautiful, talented artist, with a big heart, a love of the outdoors, a family who adored her, and an addiction to heroin.

Her death came just 3 days before a planned intervention by her family. As with many heroin-related deaths, the actual cause was the drug Fentanyl, a cheaply produced synthetic opioid, used to cut the heroin, at a level 6 times what is considered safe.

Emily's family has taken their grief and molded it into Emily's Hope, an organization with the goal of raising awareness, removing stigmas, and offering the hope of recovery for others.

Emily's Hope fund at Avera McKennan Foundation wants to help people who may have financial barriers to getting addiction treatment.

To support this effort there will be a 90 mile, all-vehicle, all-ages, Poker Run this Saturday, June 29, beginning at J&L Harley Davidson and ending at Shenanigan's Sports Bar & Grill.

Registration is $25 and begins at 11 AM until 1 PM. Each registration includes 1 route card, 1 poker hand, 1 free lunch at the J&L Snack Shack and the first 300 people who register will receive a 2019 Emily's Hope Bandana.


More From KXRB