PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For Charlene Tissenbaum, the heroin epidemic has hit close to home.

Her adult son has been battling addiction for the past five years. She’s witnessed ups and downs and now, she wants to bring the opioid crisis front and center.

She organized this panel discussion at Beth El Congregation in Mt. Lebanon Thursday night.

“The first goal is to get a diverse group of people together to really talk about addiction and hopefully diminish the stigma that’s associated with addiction,” Tissenbaum said.

Something else important to Tissenbaum, making sure people truly understand exactly how addiction works.

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“My second objective is for everyone to understand that addiction is a disease that effects the brain and that it’s chronic, meaning that it will last a lifetime of the addict,” she said.

For the event, Tissenbaum recruited experts including the U.S. Attorney, a congressman, state lawmakers, and addiction professionals. She said lawmakers play a critical role in this fight, especially when it comes to treatment.

She said a lot of young adults don’t know where to turn to even find insurance that will cover different treatments.

“If they’re not working where they have insurance, they need to get that on their own and if you don’t have the motivation or the guidance or the help to do that, they’ll tend not to,” Tissenbaum said

About 200 people took part in the panel. Many said similar events should be happening in locations all around Pittsburgh.