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Monthly Archives: October 2014
This piece was written by me and published last week in The Windham Independent News.
I’m primarily a news photographer. I’m also a news writer and reporter. Every once in a while I report on a story I believe so important to the pubic it needs to be shared. This is one of them.
Statehouse Rally Saturday October 18th Following Sharp Increase in Heroin OD Deaths
Susan and Tom Markievitz’s son Chad began using heroin in the fall of 2013. He died from a heroin overdose on July 28, 2014. He had just turned 25 years old.
According to Mrs. Markievitz, Chad had a normal early childhood. He enjoyed four-wheeling, fishing and sports. “Everyone loved him. He was very respectful,” she said.
Chad’s problems started shortly before attending Salem High School. Once in high school Chad found challenges and opportunity. His path to addiction is a common one. It began with prescription medication and progressed to alcohol and cocaine. The first time his parents intervened Chad was 16 years old. He spent 35 days enrolled in an Outward Bound troubled teens program in El Paso, Texas.
Rehabilitation was successful for a time. “He had his good times, his bad times. He’d be sober and straight for months then relapse. Every time he relapsed it got worse and worse,” his mother said.
Ultimately Chad could not break away from the addiction. He wrote in his journal that it was a real struggle. “He called it his demon,” his mother said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nationally, death rates from prescription opioid pain reliever (OPR) overdoses quadrupled during 1999–2010 and the death rate from heroin overdose doubled from 2010 to 2012 (in the 28 states participating in the reporting, including NH).
The Windham Fire Department has administered the opioid antidote Narcan 13 times since the beginning of 2014. As stated by Lieutenant Jay Moltenbrey, pin point pupils and decreased respiratory drive are clear signs of an opioid overdose.
What makes heroin in particular so dangerous and easy to overdose on is its dosage inconsistencies. Regulated prescription opioids’, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, dosages are reliable. Heroin is not regulated and is obtained exclusively through illicit channels. For this reason addicts tend to buy heroin from the same person. If anything in that supply chain changes, the potency could be completely different from what the user typically uses. There is simply no way to know what the concentration is or what it’s cut with.
Mrs. Markievitz describes the warning signs as numerous. She found Chad nodding off, rambling endlessly, slurring words and he had sudden bouts of singing and dancing. Spoons went missing and she found little cotton wads around the house. Eventually household items began to disappear.
She believes one of the most important things a parent can do is monitor their child’s phone and document the phone numbers they are interacting with. Addicts often have sneaky phone calls and texts and use their own lingo that is impossible for the uninitiated to decipher. She urges any parent that finds drugs or contraband to call the police department.
While the police department is obligated to arrest anyone caught with possession, they are primarily interested in arresting those who are distributing the drug. “The dealers we want to take down and the users we want to get help,” said Windham Police Captain Caron.
“It’s illegal to possess narcotics. It’s illegal to sell them and illegal to be in possession of paraphernalia. We can and do arrest users and dealers for those things. But we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. As a society we need to put just as much focus on the root causes for the addictive behavior as we do on enforcing the law,” said Windham Police Chief Gerry Lewis.
Captain Caron admits that by the time relatives notify the police, “they are at the point of hopelessness. They don’t want them to go to jail but they don’t want them to die. With long term heroin usage, death is a foregone conclusion. It’s a demon. It’s an ugly demon.”
Chief Lewis believes early intervention is essential. “It is critically important that loved ones address the issue with the addict as soon as it becomes known they are using drugs. The longer the person uses drugs the harder it becomes to remedy.”
Both Chief Lewis and Captain Caron stress the impact addiction has on the overall public, ranging from impacting health and human resources, burglaries and associated crime and depleting local service budgets such as schools and emergency response.
“Just because it’s not in your family doesn’t mean you’re not affected by it. It affects all of society in one way or another,” said Captain Caron.
Following the death of her son Chad, Mrs. Markievitz is reaching out to anyone affected by addiction. She is the administrator of the NH chapter of The Addict’s Mom, a volunteer support group for mother’s of addicted children. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please see their website for more information www.addictsmom.com
The Hope for NH Recovery; We Believe in Recovery rally will be held at the statehouse (107 North Main Street, Concord) this Saturday, October 18th from 11AM- 2PM. NH Governor Maggie Hassan and US Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen will be speaking on the issue. The public is encouraged to attend.