Upstate woman bringing awareness to heroin addiction after fiance’s death

Zachary Wenk and Miranda Gilbert (Courtesy: Miranda Gilbert).

SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA-TV) – Overdose deaths, mainly due to heroin addiction, are up more than 20 percent in the largest Upstate counties since last year.

Now, an Upstate woman is on a mission to raise awareness about the growing problem of heroin addiction after her fiance’ died last month from an overdose.

“He was just so full of life and so funny and I was just immediately drawn to him,” said Miranda Gilbert.

A chance greenville meeting would bring Gilbert and Zachary Wenk together in September 2014. The pair became inseparable and were engaged a year later.

“Around that time, I started noticing differences. I didn’t really understand what it was, but the way he acted, sometimes the way he looked,” she said.

A few months after their engament, Zachary overdosed on what he told Miranda was pills.

“I told him that if he didn’t get help, that I would call off the wedding,” said Gilbert.

During Zach’s graduation from a 10 week rehab course, Zach was required to give his testimony.

“He actually admitted for the first time that it was heroin and I had no idea,” Miranda said “I’d never been around it at all. I’d never seen him do anything. So I didn’t even know the signs to look for.”

Things were good for a while, but Zach would overdose two more times until a Saturday in November when heroin would end his life.

“I just kind of feared this for a while now,” said Gilbert.

Now, Gilbert is on a new mission to raise awareness about a drug that shattered her picture of forever.

January 8th, she’ll host a community prayer vigil at Spartanburg’s Cleveland Park to remember those who lost the battle with addiction, but also point out an increasingly ugly truth:

“You probably know someone who’s struggling with this and you don’t even know,” said Gilbert.

“Probably 4 out of 10 people in your life are addicted,” said Deb Holifield with Carolina Treat Center. “The increase in overdose deaths. Its going it happen. It’s going to continue to happen.”

Unless people get smart and lawmakers act, according to Holifield.

She’d like to see drugs like Narcan, a powerful overdose reversal drug, in the hands of recovering addicts and law enforcement agencies in the state.

“My goal would be to be out of a job. I would love that. I would to get it so that I wouldn’t have to ever treat another addict again,” said Holified.

For Gilbert, she wants people – especially children – to see clearly what addiction can do

“It’s easier to stay away than it is to quit what you’ve already started,” said Gilbert.

Miranda Gilbert’s January 8th Prayer Vigil in Spartanburg will be held at Cleveland Park. Click HERE for details

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