Late in the summer of 2013, four young adults in the Hatboro-Horsham community died from heroin overdoes within a two-month period. Members of Be a Part of the Conversation felt that action must be taken to address this troubling epidemic.
The former Hatboro-Horsham students who passed away, ranging in ages 18 to 23, were dearly loved by their surviving family members and friends, and touched the lives of hundreds of people in the community. We wanted to provide the most helpful and informative information possible to a group of people who were hungry to learn how we could work together to prevent even one more death, and hopefully to keep young people from using such harmful drugs.
More than 250 people were in attendance at the Keith Valley Middle School cafeteria for “A Conversation About Heroin” on September 30, 2013. We began with some remarks from Kim Rubenstein of Be a Part of the Conversation, along with John Nodecker, Assistant Superintendent of Hatboro-Horsham School District. Our featured presenter was David Rotenberg, Vice President for Treatment at Caron Treatment Center in Wernersville, PA, who gave a brief but comprehensive explanation about the reality of substance use and dependence and how young people, in particular, can quickly become addicted to opioid drugs – especially heroin.
Several speakers formed the evening’s panel, and each gave their unique perspective on addiction and the changing culture of heroin use. The panelists included The Reverend Steve McComas, Senior Pastor of Lehman Church in Hatboro; Chief James Gardner, Hatboro Police Department; Lieutenant Jon Clark, Horsham Township Police Department; Dawn Tucker, Hatboro-Horsham School District’s K-12 Student Assistance Coordinator; Pam Roberts, the parent of young adults in recovery; Heather Gregan, a mental health and addiction therapist; and Zach Meier, a young person in recovery. Also, two adolescents shared a bit of their history of heroin use with the audience.
After the presentations, guests broke into small groups to discuss what they heard from presenters, their own thoughts or perspectives, and any further questions they would like to have addressed. Each group had a facilitator, and after some time talking together, the facilitators shared questions, concerns and feedback from the breakout groups. Questions were addressed by all the presenters.
Many guests stayed behind to talk further, and picked up literature from various agencies and organizations who were stationed about the room with helpful information.