Deaths from heroin use nationwide have jumped nearly 300 percent over the past decade. In the midwest, it's up 400 percent.
Finding solutions is the goal of a forum held Monday in La Crosse. It's called the Western Healthcare Coalition and it's the first of it's kind in the state. Organizers say La Crosse is at the forefront of this issue.
"As a community every individual needs to know that people who abuse drugs do so because of an addiction. It doesn't become a choice after the first or second time, it's no longer a choice. We have to support each other, work together as people and understand while addiction is powerful, people working together is more powerful," Jen Rombalski, Health Director with the La Crosse County Health Department said.
The coalition is a chance for health care providers, county workers, law enforcement and lawmakers to come together, to take a step towards fighting the war against drugs.
The Lybert family from Oconomowoc, was among those that spoke at the forum.
Tyler Lybert, 28, was in sixth grade when he first started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. He didn't know how one choice would impact his life forever.
"I just wanted friends and that's why I started and then it progressed through grade school to drinking and smoking pot and then by the time I hit high school I was doing I was doing pills and by the time I was 16-17 years old I was doing heroin," Lybert said, adding his life quickly began to crumble around him.
"It just grabs on to you and doesn't let go. As soon as it's hooks are in you it's almost impossible to break it. It's the only thing that matters to you. It's the only thing that's important," he said.
Tyler's heroin addiction wasn't only destructing his life but his entire family's.
"I had his funeral planned," Tyler's mom, Sandi said, "I was devastated. I was watching my son slowly killing himself and I couldn't stop it."
Eventually Tyler's mom, dad and sister gave him an ultimatum-- get sober or they didn't want to see him again.
"I went into inpatient treatment for almost 5 months and learned how to live again."
Tyler said when he was on heroin he only knew one way to live: to lie, steal, and manipulate. Treatment gave him a second chance at his life.
Now the Lybert family is sharing their story of addiction with others, including students at Luther High School in Onalaska.
"I want people to know that it can happen to anybody. I can happen anywhere. And also, I want to show that there's hope that we can survive this," Sandi said.
"There's no cure for this. It will never go away but if you're willing to work at staying sober and work at living a better life, it's 100 percent possible," Tyler added.
After unbelievable hardship the Lybert family can finally say their proud of Tyler.
"He is the man that I always thought he would be," Sandi said, "I thank God every day for the 7 years I've had him sober."
The Lyberts spent Monday afternoon with students at Luther High School and then spoke Monday night at the Heroin and Other Illicit Drugs forum.
They said their goal is to show Wisconsin families recovery is possible and there is a way out of addiction.