Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2019

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After losing son, man works to help Las Vegas heroin addicts


L.E. Baskow

Joe Engle and sons, from left, Dylan, 22, Shane, 21, and Adam, 16, with a portrait of Reese Engle, who died in July 2011 from a heroin overdose. Joe is the local leader of the group There Is No Hero in Heroin.

There is No Hero in Heroin

For more information about the Las Vegas chapter of There is No Hero in Heroin, visit

Joseph Engle works to help addicts deal with heroin dependence because he’s all too familiar with how the drug impacts their lives. And, more important, the lives of their loved ones.

Heroin abuse was common in the Engle family, taking the life of his son, Reese, five years ago. His dad, brothers and Engle himself also battled the heroin kick.

Although Engle became sober about 16 years earlier, he struggled to help his teenage son fight his addiction. He knows other families face the same predicament.

“I was totally blindsided by his heroin addiction,” he said.

So, he coordinated the opening of a Las Vegas chapter of There is No Hero in Heroin, a nonprofit group aimed at bringing awareness to heroin addiction through community events, political activism and by providing informational resources.

They will hold the third-annual #BlackMonday2016 event at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Salvation Army Chapel at 2900 Palomino Lane to celebrate the lives of those who have died from heroin abuse. They will also raise funds for the organization.

The three-hour event will feature musical acts and a resource fair with over 20 booths from local organizations including WestCare Nevada, Las Vegas Recovery Center, The Addict's Mom (TAM), Turning Point Nevada and the Salvation Army.

There will also be a panel with guest speakers, including Las Vegas Mayor Pro Tem Steve Ross, Justice Court Judge Diana Sullivan and WestCare Nevada’s Area Director Erin Kinard.

The event will feature a memorial wall to honor those still facing the throes of addiction and to celebrate those who have overcome it. There will also be dinner and raffle items available.

“It’s an emotional and powerful evening,” Engle said.

Although the event is free, the nonprofit will be accepting donations, which go toward the organization’s mission to provide a sober living environment for one person for one month.

Engle said that drug addiction treatment centers cost $10,000 to $15,000 a month, which is out of reach for many. Even with the less expensive centers for those who don’t have insurance, receiving treatment can be a challenge because of limited space, he said.

“It’s not easy to find a treatment organization, so I was hoping to cut through some red tape, and we’ve been a little successful in getting referrals,” he said

Engle feels one way to truly make a change in the community is to redefine the public’s perception of drug addiction and to dissociate negative stigmas. He hopes this event will do that.

“My son was 19 years old,” Engle said. “He didn’t have much of a chance to live his life, and if I can honor his memory by helping someone else finding a way to live, I would feel like his death was not in vain.”

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