Alabama is suffering from a dramatic increase in heroin overdoses, and West Alabama is not immune.

On Monday, the Parents’ Resource Institute for Drug Education group hosted a town hall meeting at the Tuscaloosa River Market, offering the audience a chance to share their own stories.

A panel of 13 professionals were also there with advice and resources for those who need help or know family or friends who need help with addiction.

PRIDE Executive Director Derek Osborn said he hopes they can increase awareness of the epidemic across the state.

“I don’t think there’s anything been quite like this done in Tuscaloosa,” he said. “And we know that Tuscaloosa is a problem area just like the rest of the state is, but it’s still a problem area. We have a very big student population, but it’s not just confined to our student population at each one of our colleges, it’s also a community problem too.”

PRIDE organizers said they’re planning on having more events like this in the future to draw attention to Alabama’s overdose rate, which is the third-highest in the country.

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