Students learn about heroin epidemic



JUST SAY ‘NO.’ On April 7, students who were present at school witnessed a documentary and listened to an expert panel on the dangers and effects of heroin. The panel has visited various schools to impart the severity of the heroin epidemic. Their goal is to raise awareness early on in order to combat the issue before it starts.

Sycamore Community Schools partnered with local law enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Hamilton County Coroner’s office, and the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office to present to students the documentary “Chasing the Dragon” on Fri., Apr. 7.

The documentary focused on the epidemic of prescription opioid and heroin use that thousands of Americans will die from this year.

The purpose of the viewing and discussion with students and staff was to increase an awareness regarding the potentially lifelong consequences of drug use while engaging the current and future leaders in this dialogue.

The administration showed the edited version of the documentary to students. The edited version attempts to eliminate the inappropriate language while delivering a strong message with intense content.

“This documentary was created to help students develop a greater understanding of this crisis and to create a deeper appreciation about the dangers of opioid addiction.

“Our goal is to reach youth before an addiction can set in,” said James B. Comey, FBI Director, and Chuck Rosenberg, DEA Acting Administrator, at the beginning of the documentary.

“‘Chasing The Dragon’ has really showed me things I would’ve never guessed heroin can do to someone,” said Danielle Toms, 10.

The expert panel included: Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney of the Juvenile Division Brian Goodyear, DEA Agent in Charge Timothy Reagan, FBI Media and Public Affairs Coordinator Todd Lindgren, local law enforcement, president of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program and psychologist Dr. Richard Baum, and parent Beth Renner.

The panel answered student-written questions during the assembly. Questions were written in ACE bell during or immediately after the watching of the video.

The presentation changed the perspective of students who thought heroin was not a serious problem that impacted the Sycamore community.

“I knew heroin was bad, but when they explained exactly what it does to people, I was heart broken to know that people actually use it,” said Josh Issac, 10.

Students and teachers alike learned the outcomes of heroin and how addicts get hooked on it and how serious the problem is becoming.

“I didn’t expect that many people to have the nerve to even think twice about it. But I learned how many people we have lost to it, and I was shocked,” said Pierce Bryant, 10.

A Community Forum engaging the Sycamore adult population on the critical topic of lifelong consequences of drug use followed on Sun., Apr. 9.