EDWARDSVILLE — A warden will talk about heroin’s impact on an East St. Louis prison at the next public meeting of the Madison County Heroin Task Force at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28, in the County Board Room at the Madison County Administration Building.
Warden Jeff Parker of the Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center in East St. Louis will speak about the impact heroin has had at his facility, which is a dedicated substance abuse correctional facility for male offenders within the Illinois Department of Corrections. Members of Madison County’s drug court team also will discuss heroin’s impact on their program.
At the last meeting, task force member Dr. Kari Karidis, assistant principal with Collinsville High School, discussed her personal experience and loss of a loved one from heroin. Two young women who are in recovery also spoke about their personal experiences with heroin. At an earlier meeting, the task force also heard from two parents who shared their struggles in dealing with their children who were heroin addicts.
Additional presentations have included Coroner Steve Nonn, who discussed his office’s experience dealing with the devastating results of heroin and opiate addiction; Michael Shah of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who provided information on elements of the heroin problem internationally, nationally and locally; Chestnut Health Systems’ Julie Brugger, who discussed drug trends and recovery; and WellSpring Resources’ Jessica Park and Kelly Medlin, who gave a presentation on methadone treatment. Additionally, Task Force member Rebecca Mowen, a board-registered interventionist and certified alcohol and drug counselor, discussed how interventions can be an option for families dealing with heroin addiction. Jared Opsal, public awareness specialist and coordinator of the Curiosity+Heroin campaign for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, told attendees what his organization has done in implementing a public awareness campaign in St. Louis.
The task force has been looking at the effectiveness of past efforts to fight the problem while assessing the current status of the problem in the county to develop a future plan of action to help reduce addiction and save lives.