MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Deforest's Mary Rauwolf's son Conrad died of a heroin overdose in 2015 at the age of 22. Now, she's working to support other families and educate others on the opioid epidemic.
"He was probably one of the funniest people I know. If you ever wanted a car ride, that's who I wanted riding shotgun because the trip was always interesting," Rauwolf said about her son Conrad.
She said Conrad struggled with bipolar disorder and other behavioral issues from an early age.
"Conrad had behaviors, even as a baby that we talked to his pediatrician about that we knew there was something different about him," Rauwolf said.
She said he turned to drugs as a way to cope. He became addicted to heroin and at the age of 22, overdosed and died.
"He died in our home. He died 12 feet from where I was sleeping," Rauwolf said.
Now Rauwolf is working with other parents of addicts through the Parent Addiction Network, a branch of Safe Communities, an organization that works to prevent accidents in Dane County.
According to Safe Communities, overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in Dane County.
"I think all of those people out there affected by this disease need advocates, putting a face on it and reminding them that those people have people that love them," Rauwolf said.
She said she hopes to change the stigma around addiction and help people understand that people who struggle with addiction come form all walks of life and have families who care about their health and safety.
"I really, really, really, really want people to see them as valuable and worth saving," Rauwolf said.
For more information on the Parent Addiction Network click here. For more information on how you can find drug addiction assistance in Dane County click here. To find services in your county click here.
Copyright 2017: WMTV