Illinois Task Force hears from families dealing with opioid epidemic in Dixon

How in-patient program is saving lives

DIXON, Illinois - Two families fighting the same demon. 
"Our son was a good kid, he was never in trouble in high school," says Linda Wegner. 
"I thought it was fun to party, I thought I was a good kid though, I was always home by curfew," says former heroin addict Nikki Massini.       
For Nikki Massini, the drug use started at an early age. 
"I did mushrooms, acid, shrooms all by the time I was 16-years-old," says Massini.  
By 18, she became addicted to heroin. 
"I'd been doing so many uppers that when I first used heroin, I thought that for the first time in forever, I'd been more myself but more relaxed," says Massini.      
For nearly four years, heroin controlled Massini's life. 
Until she was arrested in 2005, a day she says changed everything. 
"While in jail my family finally found out my secret, the shame, the embarrassment, the disgust I felt was overwhelming," says Massini.  
Linda Wegner found out about her sons' addiction eight years ago, through a phone call. 
"We entered a world we knew nothing about," says Wegner. 
Wegner saw her son lose everything, even becoming homeless at one point. 
When the family was finally able to convince him to get treatment, there was no room.     
"There was a four-week wait, so four weeks is too long, by then he changed his mind," says Wegner.  
Like Massini, Wegner says her son's arrest in Colorado was the turning point. 
He was treated in a hospital, spent time in jail, and then moved back to Illinois to seek treatment. 
A sacrifice for the family. 
"I cashed out my IRA, we went into debt to get him the treatment," says Wegner.  
But the treatment was a success.
"Our son is six and a half years clean and sober," says Wegner. 
Massini has been sober for more than a decade. 
Now both women have made it their mission to help other families in the community with the Safe Passage program. 
 "To see families made whole again, and we know how to do this, we can see less deaths, we can see less people put in jail," says Wegner.  


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