Heroin, Prescription Drugs Lead Topics at Awareness Event
Staff and elected officials from law enforcement agencies, local government, school districts and mental health treatment organizations are putting together an event to educate people on fending off the trend of rising drug use.
Talks with recovered addicts, actual 911 calls from overdose cases and samples of real heroin and other drugs could be part of a planned symposium to counteract recent rising trends of heroin use in the area.
Representatives from school districts, law enforcement and mental health organizations attended the second Community Link group meeting at Orland Township Wednesday morning to begin planning the event. Several of their comments--and comments from one community member who lost a loved one to drug abuse--are at the bottom of this article.
Suggested speakers included David Lee, founder of Indiana-based Intervention Servicescand participants in Orland Fire Battalion Chief Mike Schofield’s Blink of an Eye. Carl Sandburg High School students in broadcast classes will be asked to film the event for those who can’t attend
The event is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, May 1 at Carl Sandburg High School.
Attendees at the Wednesday morning meeting offered the following perspectives and input on drug use.
- Lynne Donegan, Orland School District 135 Board of Education Member: “When we think of someone with heroin addiction, we think of a person with no teeth living in the inner city in an abandoned house. Not too long ago, a classical musician in high school, his mother found him slumped over the piano. He died of a heroin overdose. It’s real and it’s here.”
- Mary Egan, Community Relations Coordinator for Rosecrance Health Network: “People end up always chasing the high. They might build a strong dependency, and then stop for a while. Then their tolerance isn’t as high, they take too much and that’s often when they die. Some say they didn’t realize it was heroin when they first did it.”
- Alison Boutcher, Counselor/Prevention Coordinator with Orland Township Youth and Family Services: “We’re learning that it is very difficult for people to ask for help. We want to figure out how to take the shame and guilt out of asking for help.”
- Russell Johnson, Social Worker at Carl Sandburg High School (referring to a rise in prescription drug use and the apparent ease of access): “One of the things we tend to overlook with access is the medicine cabinet at home. Kids do seem to be doing a lot more of the prescriptions. They like the Xanax, the Oxycontin. Some of it is they are getting…either they get from someone who’s prescribed it or someone in the family has it. You don’t typically think of locking your medicine cabinet from your kids. The access can also be right there in your own home.”
- Sgt. Scott Malmborg, Orland Park Police Department: “We can limit access (to prescription drugs), but like the heroin it’s a choice. Some people, if they want it, they’ll get it.”
- Brian Lengfelder, Addiction Services Program Manager with Resurrection Health Care: “Groups of people will go to these suburbs where money is available and introduce to the population at certain parties, and next thing we know the cycle starts. They get addicted, but what they don’t realize is in five to seven days it’s gone. They just can’t get past day three.”
- Cheryl Kokaska, Counselor/Outreach Coordinator, Orland Township Youth and Family Services: “This is really a Cook County-wide, state-wide, nation-wide problem. I have two teenage daughters and it could be one of mine, or their friends.”
Update, 4:25 p.m. Thursday, March 15
Ann Gentile's comment about Brooke Fry was taken down, due to Fry's death being caused by alcohol. While the comment did not directly cite heroin as a cause for death, the implication led to its removal.