By James Pearson
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 30,000 annual unintentional drug overdose deaths in the United States.
On Nov. 5, 2014, The NOPE (Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education) Task Force presented a seminar at DCCC’s Marple campus titled “Sometimes You Never Sleep it Off” which focused on student awareness when drug overdoses occur.
“The NOPE Task Force is a 501 non-profit organization that formed in Palm Beach County, Florida in 2004, to combat the illegal use of prescription drugs and narcotics, as well as other abused substances,” according to their website www.nopetaskforce.org. “NOPE Task Force is comprised of community leaders and concerned families working to save lives.”
Delaware County Executive Director Marianne Grace and Holcomb Behavioral Health Systems Prevention coordinator Chelsey Price started the seminar off by talking about the dangers of drug overdose.
“Addiction can run in families,” said Price talking about the death of two brothers Jesse Leonard, 20, and Dustin Leonard, 23, from drug abuse.
During their presentation the NOPE Task Force presented a short video titled “Expectations vs. Reality” that illustrated the effects of combining drugs and alcohol.
According to Leonard J. Paulozzi, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Epidemiologist for the National Center for Prevention and Control Centers for Disease Control, the majority of overdose deaths involve more than one drug.
“My brother had seizures when mixing prescription drugs,” said presenter Ashley Seneko on her brother Dennis. As a result, he went to jail for his drug use.”
According to Seneko, when her brother was released from jail he turned to heroin after being fired from his job. But the use of heroin caused Dennis to spend two weeks in the hospital before finding a new job in New Jersey.
A few weeks later, Seneko received a Facebook message from Tricia Gordon about Dennis not being at work so she contacted the police department.
“It was discovered by police that Dennis died from a heroin overdose in his apartment,” Seneko said.
During the seminar, Upper Chichester sergeant police officer James Reardon says that he recalled similar issues of drug abuse victims.
“One night a 19-year-old male named Jared Kirstein got together with a friend to go to a carnival but decided to go see another friend to drink alcohol,” Reardon said. “While drinking alcohol, Kirstein made a big mistake by popping two unknown pills and also taking a prescription drug.”
According to Reardon, Kirstein was “wasted” but his friends decided not to take him to the hospital but left him lying on the sleeping bag in their apartment.
“When Kirstein does not awake his friends contact his parents and called the ambulance,” Reardon said. “As the paramedics work on Kirstein they are unable to save him and he dies from combining drugs and alcohol.”
Reardon added he wants people to understand that it only takes one pill that leads to combining drugs.“Every time you decide to drink or do drugs you’re close to dying,” he said. “But our goal is for us to make the right decision.”