Heroin speaks, with a voice so loud that it can drown out all others, so it's necessary to speak up and speak truth to heroin. That's the idea behind the name of this year's Substance Abuse Awareness Program, said Linda Auerback, substance abuse prevention supervisor at the Carroll County Health Department.
Titled "Speak Out: Heroin, Prescription Drugs and More," the event will kick off at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 27, at the Carroll County Arts Center in Westminster and will feature expert speakers, parent testimonials and the premiere of several short films the Health Department produced for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The event is designed to key in parents and community members to current trends in drug abuse in Carroll County and the region.
"[We] give the community an overall picture of what is going on in Carroll County," Auerback said. "We are basically talking about heroin and prescription drugs … it's on whatever the community need is at the time, and we will also highlight some of our accomplishments during the year and the unfortunate tragedies from overdoses."
The keynote speaker will be Charles Hedrick, a 19-year veteran of the DEA and a group supervisor for intelligence operations in Baltimore, Auerback said.
"His presentation will be highly informative. … There is cutting-edge new information on fentanyl," Auerback said. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid drug many times more powerful than heroin that has begun to be sold as heroin in the greater Baltimore region, Auerback said, leading to more unexpected overdoses by users.
Another speaker, Beth Schmidt, will be talking about how the influx of fentanyl affected her family through the loss of her son Shawn.
"He passed away last year in his car in the parking lot of a Mount Airy shopping center," Auerback said. "He was our county's first pure fentanyl death that we know of. He thought he was buying heroin."
There will also be presentations by Tim Weber, of Weber Sober Homes, and the teenage actors of the FoolProof Improvisational Theatre Troupe.
It was FoolProof that Auerback called upon over the summer to help produce a series of short films on the dangers of heroin, drugs and alcohol for the DEA. Produced by the Health Department and FoolProof with the assistance of a DEA camera crew, the films will premiere at the event and will later be used across the state, and event the country, Auerback said.
"We know the one on alcohol will be shown all November and December at Regal movie theaters. The DEA will be using them at their headquarters," she said. "It seemed to me from the conversation with the DEA it would not just be local, but other states and everything."
The presentations will begin at 6 p.m. Monday, but Auerback said the doors will open at 5 p.m. so that those who attend can visit the informational booths set up by the DEA, the Coalition Against Underage Drinking and the Health Department prevention office as well.
There will also be free sandwiches.
"The community doesn't always know what it is that we do here, so it is a good opportunity for them to come out and discover what we do," she said. "We hope a lot of the community will come out at 5 to 5:30 p.m., get something to eat and visit all the booths."
Carroll County Breaking News
Reach staff writer Jon Kelvey at 410-857-3317 or email@example.com.
If you go
What: Annual Substance Abuse Awareness Program "Speak Out: Heroin, Prescription Drugs and More"
When: 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27
Where: The Carroll County Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster
For more information, call Linda Auerback at 410-876-4803.