11/16/2014 09:54 am ET Updated Jan 16, 2015

A Brothers' Battle Against Heroin Addiction

This story first appeared at the Patriot Ledger.

Earlier this year, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declared opioid abuse a public health crisis.

It's a subject that hits close to home for two brothers from Abington. Robert "R.J." Ronan, 24, is a recovering heroin addict who has died and been resuscitated six times. Josh Ronan, 20, has found motivation in his brother's addiction and gives talks to students on drug abuse.

R.J. began using drugs at a very age and eventually found heroin. His addiction escalated when he began to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute and he eventually dropped out.

He was in and out of rehab as his friends and family tried to help. He eventually quit and in July celebrated his two-year anniversary of sobriety.

Now, R.J. cleans windows and Josh studies nursing at UMass Boston while working part-time. This is their story.