War on addiction, overdose continues
CENTREVILLE — Some began their opiate use from prescription medication, some through friends offering pills, and others simply seeking the high. But on Tuesday night, Sept. 19, at Queen Anne’s County High School, attendees of the informational opiates session learned one hard truth: it can happen to anyone, and it’s highly addictive and tough to kick no matter how they started.
As the opioid epidemic continues throughout communities nationwide, and the faces of users portrayed has gone from inner city residents to suburban neighbors, county representatives thought it wise to continue educating the community on the drug that’s killing citizens at a high rate.
The placed by the Drug Free Coalition a few months ago labeling the year-to-date overdose and death numbers from opiates for county residents began at 20 and 3, respectively, and has grown to 40 and 4 as of Tuesday night.
In the foyer of the high school prior to the 7 p.m. start time, Sheriff Gary Hoffman and Health Officer Dr. Joseph Ciotola stood by informational posters offering pamphlets and brochures with drug and health information.
To begin the community awareness event, which also took place at Kent Island High School on Thursday night, the FBI produced documentary, “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict,” which chronicled the use, abuse and
stories of multiple people dealing with opioid addictions, was shown. The film showed ordinary people, many of which with supportive upbringings in stable households, go from alcohol and marijuana use to heroin and the effects it had on them.
The inability to move due to withdrawal sickness, stealing and pawning anything in sight, and eventual overdoses and arrests were some of the negative side effects people interviewed mentioned while describing the challenge of the addiction.
To hit closer to home after the documentary finished, three Queen Anne’s County parents took to the podium and described their children’s experience using opioids.
Tony Reno, whose son Anthony overdosed at age 21 after snorting opiates with a friend, said his son was prescribed medication for anxiety and depression, which eventually lead him to purchase heroin. Reno said his son purchased the opiate because he was unable to get prescription medication anymore.
While at a friend’s house after picking up a half a gram from under the Kent Narrows Bridge, Reno said, his son and friend overdosed and died from a tenth of a gram because it was laced with Fentanyl. He said drug dealers, to make a larger profit, will cut the drugs with unknown substances to grow their supply.
Reno said the addiction problem is a war that can’t be totally won, but with education death prevention is possible. He also said kids are introduced to drugs at an early age and that finding alternative methods of treatment is key to controlling opiate use.
Chris Jones, whose son Brandon died of an overdose, said her son was always out to please people and was a “mama’s boy.” In March 2015, Jones said she had her son arrested as it was the only option to get him help.
Jones recalled how she would give him money, which he used to buy marijuana and other things, and how he had stolen jewelry and pawned it. Jones said she went to the jeweler to retrieve the gems and a piece of her mother’s jewelry, who had passed away.
Jones read parts of a letter her son sent her while he was in jail describing, in detail, his situation and how he ended up incarcerated. He described how he and a friend would go over the Bay Bridge and pick up drugs, about how when he was on house arrest after robbing Baltimore Raven’s owner Steve Busciotti his drug dealers would drop the drugs off at the house.
He described how, after getting kicked out of a house in Denton, he cut all the copper wire from the attic and garage, and how he and a friend set up guy and robbed him of $200.
“I hated the way I was living,” Jones read from the letter. “...I’m not proud of any of it.”
Jones told the audience never to turn their back on their kids, but to also not enable them. She said to let the person know every day how loved they are, or they will find something, such as opiates, that will.
Starting on Oct. 3 and repeating every Tuesday at the Nielsen Center, 205 N. Liberty Street, Centreville, a support group will meet for families struggling with opiate misuse. The meeting is free and goes from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. For information, contact Ryan at 410-7581306 ext. 4525 or email Kate. Ryan@maryland.gov.
A second Kent Island Town Hall will take place at Stevensville Middle School at 7 p.m. on Oct. 12.
Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @mike_kibaytimes.
Sheriff Gary Hoffman introduces the movie, “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict,” during an opiates and heroin awareness event at Queen Anne’s County High School on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
Chris Jones, a Queen Anne’s County resident, shared her experience dealing with her son’s opiate use during a opioid, heroin awareness event at Queen Anne’s County High School on Tuesday, Sept. 19.