Deer Park Schools Hosts Documentary Screening on Severity of Heroin Epidemic
“This epidemic touches every segment of society—from the city to rural areas, the affluent and the poor, and every race and gender.”
An audience of about 35 heard the hard facts like that as well as heart wrenching comments from families who have struggled with and lost loved ones to opiate addiction during a free screening of the documentary “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict.”
The film, developed by the FBI and the DEA, is aimed at educating students and young adults on the growing epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse. The screening was held Wednesday morning to a group of area educators and administrators at Deer Park Jr./Sr. High School and it was followed by a panel discussion with some of the people on the front lines of fighting the epidemic in Hamilton County and surrounding communities.
Taking questions from the audience, Chief Mike Schlie, Chief of Police in Deer Park, explained that the heroin epidemic is present even in Deer Park--a city that is one square mile.
“Heroin and Opiate addiction is a problem that affects everyone, some suffer from addiction, have a family member or friend that is an addict, or could potentially be the victim of a crime carried out by an addict desperately trying to support their addiction. This epidemic requires a multifaceted approach that includes education, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and drug enforcement. The education and prevention component are critical for our Junior and Senior high school aged kids in order to break the cycle,” said Schlie.
While several panelists touched on some of the resources available to help addicts recover, Officer Ryan Fahr, a Police Officer with the Drug Enforcement Division of the Deer Park Police Department, said he has actually offered to pay for someone’s treatment on the condition that the person reach out to him. Fahr has given out hundreds of business cards, but not one person has given him a call.
Kevin Rodger, EMS Chief of the Deer Park/Silverton Joint Fire Department, said he once administered Narcan, an opiate antidote, to the same person twice in a day. He thinks schools need to show “Chasing the Dragon” to students and start open conversations about the horrific realities of heroin. Rodgers says for many people in their 20s and 30s, it’s often times too late to help. However, Rodgers believes if we start the conversation early, there is hope we can reach and educate the younger generations.
“The ‘Chasing the Dragon’ documentary, paired with the expert panelists, gives us the ‘big picture’ as well as the local lens regarding what is going on in our communities, as it relates to opiate addiction. Today was a great start in opening up the lines of communication between schools, local and federal law enforcement, as well as mental health agencies. Our next steps are to educate our students and continue our collaborative efforts, to ultimately decrease the demand for these drugs,” concluded Dr. Stace Orso, Principal at Deer Park Jr./Sr. High School.
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