Media Center

Stopping the Spiral: The Fly Effect

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

If you haven’t met Mandy,  Ben or Josh, I encourage you to do so.  You can see their stories at The Fly Effect website –  Hear how Mandy transitioned from abusing Oxycontin as a teenager to abusing Heroin after her dealer suggested she try it.  Or listen as Ben describes why he’s one of the “lucky” ones despite serving a 25-year prison sentence for the drug-related deaths of four others.  Then there’s Josh, a former Heroin addict who credits prison for saving his life – a life he’s beginning to rebuild.  As a parent, I encourage you to share these powerful experiences with your teenagers because Mandy, Ben and Josh are the lucky ones.  They broke the spiral of Heroin addiction.  Countless other young people across Wisconsin have died from overdosing on this hideous drug, which is more addictive, more available and more deadly than many of us fully understand.  As Attorney General, I encourage you to help us spread the message behind The Fly Effect – You don’t take Heroin, it takes you.


If you think Heroin isn’t impacting your community, consider this:  in 2005, twenty-two counties submitted Heroin cases to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab.  By 2011, the number of counties submitting Heroin cases increased to 37.  In 2012, fifty-six counties – representing every part of Wisconsin -- were making Heroin submissions to the lab and these figures don’t include federal crime lab statistics.  With Heroin abuse come other crimes as addicts resort to theft, burglary, robbery and other forms of victimization in a desperate search for money to feed their addiction.


But most devastating is the loss of life.  No parent ever thinks it can happen to their child, but it can, and I encourage parents to educate themselves by hearing the interviews of parents who lost their children to Heroin.   These parents often describe how subtle changes in their child’s behavior escalated as their addiction spiraled into lies and isolation; how they slept better at night when their child was in jail; how they believed their child had overcome his or her addiction until the unimaginable – an overdose from which their child didn’t wake up.  It wasn’t easy for these parents to share their stories, and as a parent myself, I find it tough to hear, but these parents, who are far from alone, shared their heartbreak in hope of preventing others from living the same nightmare.


It is up to all of us to watch out for Wisconsin’s children, to educate ourselves, and to share The Fly Effect message and printed materials in our communities or on social media.  Experience suggests teens don’t start with Heroin but eventually transition to it, as it’s cheaper, more widely available and generates a “better” high. 


Remember Mandy?  She, like others featured in the campaign, began by abusing prescription drugs … stealing them from her grandmother’s medicine cabinet.  Monitor the prescription drugs you keep at home, dispose of them properly to prevent diversion and misuse, and engage in this critical, statewide conversation to prevent Heroin abuse.  Every spiral has its start; visit to understand how, and together, we can make an impact.