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Anguish spurs moms of heroin addicts to speak out

The sharp rise in heroin overdoses in America is leaving its mark on families. Jim Axelrod meets two mothers whose lives were forever changed by the drug.
America’s heroin epidemic: A warning from grieving parents 02:59

TAUNTON, Mass. -- In a kitchen in Taunton, Mass., two mothers sit, bound by pain and confusion.

Susan Cyr and Lori Gonsalves CBS News
Each woman says she thinks every day, "Oh my God, how did I get here?"

"Here" is dealing with their sons' heroin addiction. CBS News met Susan Cyr the day after she buried her son Eric, dead of an overdose at 32.

"Everybody says he is at peace," Cyr says. "But I am in the nightmare."

Lori Gonsalves discovered her son Corey was using four years ago, when he was moody on Christmas Day.

"My husband knew something was up, and so my husband broke the door down and walked in on him with a needle in his arm," Gonsalves says.

Eric Cyr CBS News
Asked how she can make sense of her child shooting up on Christmas Day, she says, "You can't even make sense of it."

Corey lived but suffered brain damage. Once a high school pitcher, quarterback and National Honor Society student, he is now disabled.

As heroin deaths spike, families deal with grief

His troubles started with painkillers prescribed for a pitching injury. Gonsalves says the little pill that made him feel better was actually a gateway to heroin.

Corey Gonsalves CBS News
"And then he went to oxy, and then oxy becomes too expensive, and so that's when they go to heroin," she says.

"I mean, it's $5 -- it's the same price as a Happy Meal," Cyr says.

Cyr and Gonsalves were there when White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske held a town hall meeting at the Taunton fire house last month. But before he could even finish, he was interrupted by a 911 call -- another overdose.

"You couldn't have staged it better," Cyr says. "It's like, this is true. This is really a problem."

Heroin use in U.S. soaring to new heights 02:02
For these two moms, silence is the enemy.

"I have two choices: I can stay in bed or I can fight," Cyr says. "Staying in bed isn't going to help anybody."

In their anguish, they've found purpose: making sure we hear about the horrors of heroin from those who've suffered most.

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