Christopher Diep, 21, lost three friends to heroin use in the past couple of years.
When those close friends died, and countless others lost touch when he pressured them to quit, Diep said the "heroin epidemic" hit home.
Fatal drug overdoses were no longer a distant problem, but appearing in his hometown of O'Fallon and Fairview Heights, where he lives now, Diep said.
All these young kids are doing it. They get the drug free at parties and become addicted. It's there. It's in their face," Diep said. "And you keep hearing more and more stories from people: 'My son, my father, my mother died of heroin.'"
Diep decided to do something about the problem by organizing awareness rallies. Diep invited people to join his cause through a Facebook invitation that garnered hundreds of replies.
On Thursday afternoon, Diep and about two dozen people held signs at the corners of State and Lincoln Streets in O'Fallon. He also passed out bumper stickers with the statement, "We can stop the heroin epidemic together!!!"
The group will have another rally from 2 to 4 p.m. today at the St. Clair County Building in Belleville.
"We want people to know we don't support drug use," Diep said. "But if you do it, we want to help you stop."
'This stuff can kill you'
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