Rhode Island organization works to educate state on opioid abuse

Alisha Choquette shares her story of addiction as a volunteer with Shine a Light on Heroin. (WJAR)

From popping pills to using heroin, opioid addiction continues to be a deadly epidemic throughout the country.

The Centers for Disease Control reported that 45 percent of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription painkillers. An organization in Rhode Island is working to shine a light on the problem.

"The first love of my life was opiate pain pills," said Alisha Choquette.

Choquette never imagined she'd one day be talking to a group of strangers about her addiction to opiates.

"Everything in my whole world became centered around getting and finding ways and means to get more drugs from that point forward," Choquette said.

Perhaps what's most surprising is how she got addicted.

"I was actually going to the wake of a close family friend. I was at school my sophomore year and I was having anxiety so a friend of mine gave me two pills. Not knowing what they were, I took them and I instantly fell in love," Choquette said.

It's a scary truth, but one that she's sharing with people throughout Rhode Island and Connecticut as a volunteer with a grassroots organization called Shine a Light on Heroin.

Just last week, a few of the volunteers spoke to a group in West Warwick about the struggles users face getting clean.

"There is treatment there. There's a lot of other barriers. Sometimes, you know, it's not a lack of beds but it's the insurance won't cover that type of bed," said Christa Quattromani, of Shine a Light on Heroin.

These volunteers say there's something simple everyone can do to help in the fight against opioids.

"People get these prescriptions from doctors, and when they're done taking them they don't dispose of them. They leave them in their medicine cabinets where children have access to them," Choqutte said.

Had she never been introduced to them, Choquette knows her life would have turned out very differently.

Volunteers with Shine a Light on Heroin also visit schools and talk with students throughout the state.

As lawmakers across the country debate ways to combat the growing opioid crisis, NBC 10 would like to invite you to watch a "Your Voice, Your Future Town Hall: The Heroin Epidemic" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, streaming on

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