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Eye-catching billboard addresses heroin epidemic in Union County

A provocative billboard in Marysville has created buzz about the heroin epidemic. The group paying for it said its goal is to get more people to volunteer to make a difference. (WSYX/WTTE)

MARYSVILLE, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- A provocative billboard in Marysville has created buzz about the heroin epidemic. The group paying for it said its goal is to get more people to volunteer to make a difference.

The billboard off US-33 has "Let's get heroin the ____ out of town." The blank space has space for a four-letter word.

"Every place has a problem no matter where you're at," said Sonjia Allonas, who's a member of the advocacy group known as "The Addict's Parents United." Her son has stayed clean for four years.

"I think it depends on the community if they want to stay blind to it and think, 'not my kid, not my kid'."

The billboard was put up by a local volunteer group called Impact 60. The head of that group said the edgy message has gotten far more people talking than throwing up statistics.

"People need to wake up and see the warning signs," she said. "I feel that it's bad everywhere obviously because we're having deaths everywhere."

Local officials said the heroin epidemic hasn't hit Union County as hard as other places, but it's still a problem. It can be difficult to get federal funding to fight it though because their overdose numbers aren't as severe.

"There's probably not a place in the state that hasn't been affected by the heroin epidemic and we're certainly no different," said Dr. Philip Atkins, who runs the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Union County. "Everybody owns a piece of it here. I think these strategies of getting people talking and keeping a buzz going really do make a difference."

People fighting addiction feel like it'll take a village to beat the epidemic.

"It's going to affect everybody one way or another," Allonas said. "That's just how it is. That's how bad it is right now and that's how bad it's going to stay until we get involved."

Atkins said Union County already has a drug court and treatment programs. He said what is needed next is stable and affordable housing for people getting out of treatment.

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