The heroin epidemic can strike anyone, anywhere. Winnebago County’s Coroner Bill Hintz released a report on the number of people who died from drug overdoses last year. The results are eye opening.

“Once you are addicted, it is basically extremely hard to get off of it and a lot of people die,” said Rockton Resident Thorsten Wardemann.

Wardemann talking about heroin addiction, a topic all too familiar after his stepson, Chris, died in August 2014. Hintz says it’s a problem here that’s only getting worse.

Heroin was responsible for nearly 90 percent of overdose deaths in Winnebago County in 2016.
96 people died last year; of those, heroin was involved in 86 of those deaths. That’s an increase of 53 annual deaths since 2006.

“When an individual chooses, it’s not only a choice that they’re making on their own. I think it’s the addiction, the illness, the disease that is speaking,” said Hintz.

Wardemann’s stepson, Chris was an avid athlete. After a back injury he became addicted to pain medication prescribed to help heal him.

“He basically took them, relying on the doctor, and got addicted very quickly.”

Chris substituted his medication with heroin when he couldn’t get his hands them anymore.

“Pain pills are very expensive on the black market so is heroin,” said Wardemann. “I think it’s like a tenth of the price so he switched to heroin.”

Hintz says his story is like that of many others.

“The ease of being able to get heroin, for instance, it’s relatively inexpensive compared to cocaine,” said Hintz. I believe that peer pressure relatively has a lot to do with it.”

Now, Thorsten’s wife is the executive director of “Hope Over Addiction.” A program aiming to support addicts and their families; aiding his wife in the process.

“It helps her also, you know, to get through the grieving process,” said Wardemann. “It helps other people too.”

For more information about Tammy Wardemann’s organization, Hope Over Addiction, log onto