Baldwin-Whitehall took a leadership role in the epidemic currently facing our country. I am so proud to see what they have started and excited to see where it goes.
OffScript by Saltworks
A few weeks ago Baldwin High School students attended an assembly presentation of OffScript by Saltworks. OffScript is a live performance about three high school students that are very different but have one thing in common, addiction to prescription drugs. I was not able to see OffScript but my mother, step-father, sister and daughters did and found it very moving. Several parents provided me wonderful feedback on the assembly and also where told the same thing from their students.
My mother shared Amber’s story during the assembly to the students. She talked about Amber’s struggle with depression, addiction and losing her battle to addiction. Sharing Amber’s story was very difficult for my mother but she wanted to help others and from what I was told touched many students. We have the audio from my mother’s talk and will be sharing it shortly.
Chasing The Dragon by the FBI and DEA
Baldwin Whitehall also hosted a screening of Chasing The Dragon this week. Chasing The Dragon is a documentary about the lives of people addicted to opiates and how it takes hold of their lives. The documentary was a joint effort of the FBI and DEA.
A DEA agent was present during this program and spoke prior to the screening. He also stayed after to answer questions and talk with people. The Whitehall chief of police spoke about how close this epidemic is and shared about the administering of Narcan and overdose deaths right here in Whitehall Borough.
Tables where set up outside of the auditorium by the DEA, Gateway Rehab, Mercy Behavioral, Holy Family Institutes SHORES Program, Al-Anon and Alateen. These organizations are working to help in recovery and coping with grief. Having them present was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about how to address this crisis and reach out for help. Baldwin Whitehall also has social workers in the schools that can help anyone
I spoke after the Chasing The Dragon and shared Amber’s story. I was nervous as I usually am when I speak especially when talking about losing Amber. It is a strange and comforting feeling telling Amber’s story, I pray before I speak and have a feeling of being spoken through.
The number of lives that we are losing to this epidemic is mind boggling, addiction is gripping people like never before. Families are being destroyed, lives are being shattered apart.
I hope that this is the beginning of a more comprehensive and regular program by not only Baldwin-Whitehall but other districts and communities. We can’t arrest our way out of this problem, we have to help people suffering.
I will be posting the audio from both talks soon and hope to see a program like this brought to middle school students. We as parents have to keep this conversation going and teach our children what to do when confronted with situations involving substance abuse. They will be in a situation, we need to give them the tools to know how to handle it.
I would like to thank the Baldwin-Whitehall Administration and Social Workers who organized these events and worked to put this together. They took a great step in helping our community learn more about this crisis and hopefully save some lives.
The heroin epidemic affects EVERYONE. You may not be personally affected right now but you probably know someone who is or has been indirectly.
Look at the graph below, the number of fatal overdoses has risen by huge amounts over the past few years.
Image from http://www.overdosefreepa.pitt.edu/
I am personally affected by this epidemic and it is devastating every single day. Losing someone you love to an overdose leaves you with so much heartbreak.
What else could I have done to prevent it?
I have to live with this question for the rest of my life, among others. Seeing a life taken way too soon, questioning if you did enough. How could you have saved a life?
I was happy to see that one county in Pennsylvania is now going to classify heroin overdose as homicide and dealers as murders.
“If you chose to sell heroin, you’re killing people and you’re murdering people. You’re just as dead from a shot of heroin as if someone puts a bullet in you,” Kiessling told The Daily Item of Sunbury.
“Calling these accidents is sweeping it under the rug,” he said.
Read more: http://www.wpxi.com/news/pa-coroner-starts-ruling-heroin-overdose-deaths-as-homicides/180266150
School are now stocking Naloxone in schools to help save lives. We still need to do more. People suffering from addiction need to be treated as someone with a disease. They need help. Their families need help.
This is a HEALTH CRISIS!
There is an Overdose Epidemic
- One person dies every 19 minutes from unintentional drug overdose (Paulozzi, 2012).
- Pennsylvania is among the ten states with the highest opioid use and overdose rates (Paulozzi, 2012).
- For the years 1999—2007, drug-induced deaths were second only to motor vehicle fatalities (CDC, 2010).
- Opioid overdose is preventable and treatable (reversible) through the use of naloxone (UNODC, 2013).
So, what do I think we should do?
Well, I feel that stocking Naloxone or Narcan in schools is a great idea. We need to save lives. We also need to increase education, prevention and recovery. We need to be aware and not just act like it won’t happen. There are ways to save a life and we need to have these resources available to help.
Children are using at younger ages than ever before. We need to make sure they understand the dangers of trying drugs just once. We need to also give them the tools to deal with drugs WHEN they are confronted with them. Let’s face it, be real, they WILL be confronted, thinking they won’t is just being naive. How will your child handle that situation?
Their first experience with drugs may be from a legal prescription of a strong narcotic. YES. That is true. Children are being prescribed very strong narcotics at very young ages. Pain management can lead to addiction and has in many people of all ages. Depression and anxiety can lead to addiction. Children are prescribed drugs to deal with these very real medical issues but this can also lead to addiction and overdose.
Addiction does NOT discriminate. It doesn’t what matter your race, age, gender or financial status is in society. Addiction and fatal overdose affects EVERYONE!
So, I am not tell you anything new. This information is available everywhere.
But, I am asking you to do something.
Talk to your children and family about addiction, don’t just telling them to not use drugs. Tell them how to handle situations WHEN they are confronted, yes WHEN. Explain to them how to handle legally prescribed drugs and monitor their usage. Question if you or anyone you care for actually needs strong drugs. Ask the doctors if there are other ways to deal with medical situations. LOCK UP your narcotics! If you have narcotics in your house, secure them. Many people have legal narcotics in their house that are prescribed and used correctly. LOCK THEM UP. Children are taking them from parents and using or selling them.
Show LOVE. People that are fighting addiction need help. Don’t enable them, but love them. They are fighting a very real battle every day to not use. CELEBRATE people who are recovering. Long term recovery is possible, I know many people with long term recovering. Long term recovery is possible. I know many people in long term recovery and they fight every day to not use again. They are very strong people who want to be clean and want to contribute to society and they want to show love and help others.
I hope that you will never have to deal with the pain I have to deal with everyday. I know many people who have to deal with this same pain every day. Some have not lost their loved ones, some have. Some have to deal with the NIGHTMARE of addiction every day. They are frightened every time the phone rings, waiting for that call.
There are many organizations that can help you. Here are a few: