Public viewing of Chasing the Dragon drug documentary

The FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict, to enhance public awareness of an ever-growing drug problem that is facing our nation.

By Sherry Vogel

A panel of professionals from various disciplines was on hand to answer questions posed by the public.
(l to r) Tracey Goerndt, Fallon County Prevention Specialist, Trenton Harbaugh, Fallon County Sheriff, Jeff Faycosh, Regional agent in charge of the Montana Department of Justice of Criminal Investigation, Judge Nicole Benefiel, City Judge, Dr. George Ceremuga, DO, Amanda Kuntz, NP Student, and Jim Rex, Chemical Dependency Program Director, Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center (EMCMHC).

The FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict, to enhance public awareness of an ever-growing drug problem that is facing our nation. The film that was shown to the general public in Baker on Wednesday evening, April 19, was viewed in the Longfellow gymnasium. The film has also been scheduled to be shown at Baker High School to students 7-12 grades.

Fallon County is not immune to this epidemic. Although local law enforcement has had a number of successes at curtailing the local drug problem, the demand for drugs continues. One of the more worrisome trends is a growing epidemic of prescription opioid and heroin abuse, especially among young people.

One out of five high school seniors report having used prescription medications that were not prescribed for them. The DEA reports 46,000 deaths related to opioid use each year. A common practice that leads to these fatalities is mixing various pills together or mixing pills with alcohol, which can be a deadly undertaking. Overdoses are common as the addict finds he needs to take higher and higher doses to reach a high. Opioids are known to slow respirations and this is the cause of many accidental deaths.

Prescription opioid abuse is a gateway drug to heroin use. As the opioid addict finds his access to prescription drugs is cut off and his funds won’t support his drug of choice any longer, he moves on to heroin because it is less expensive. This choice leaves the addict at the mercy of whoever is supplying his addiction. Heroin that is cut with other additives during manufacturing to fill the packet is often times poison to the human body. Additives such as strychnine or even meat tenderizer have been found to be used as additives. These additives do not fully dissolve and when injected into the body can clog blood vessels that lead to the lungs, kidneys or brain causing destruction of vital organs.

Users buying heroin from dealers never know the actual strength of the drug in a packet, thus users are constantly at risk of an overdose.

Heroin is highly addictive and withdrawal is extremely painful. As the addict tries to avoid withdraw symptoms he finds himself on a perpetual treadmill, in a vicious circle, that demands he seek a daily fix. He sells his soul and often times loses the people and things that are held most dear.

Does this sound like some big city problem? Don’t fool yourselves. People right here in Fallon County are living this life style. Funny thing is they aren’t all adolescents or from low economic status. Some are your neighbors who have gotten hooked on painkillers after injuries; they are from all walks of life and of all ages.

Stay alert; be aware of those around you who may be caught in this vicious cycle of Chasing the Dragon. It might not be too late to help your loved one or friend, find the help that they need, before the Dragon turns and slays his pursuer.

To seek help for addiction dial: SAMHSA’s National Helpline  1-800-662-HELP. The website to find more information is www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov

      



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