Sheriff’s Office Offers Heroin Education Program

Heroin Alert Program Still Available

(Harford County, MD) — Heroin usage and overdose deaths affecting all age groups continue to exist in Harford County despite strong educational efforts by members of the Harford County Office of Drug Control Policy and members of the Sheriff’s Office. According to statistics from the Office of Drug Control Policy, thirty-two Harford County residents died during 2003 as a result of a heroin overdose. Heroin overdose calls are becoming a more frequent call for service by police and Emergency Medical Services personnel, according to Sgt. Al Monk of the Sheriff’s Office Community Policing Unit.

Monk also noted that heroin usage is not limited to young adults. “We are seeing men and women in their thirties and forties abusing this drug and often dying from the overdose”, Monk said.

Monk says that educational efforts have been in place since 2000 to help people learn more about heroin. “We continue to offer our Heroin Alert Program as a means to educate the public on the dangers of heroin use”, Monk said, but he added, the number of requests for the course are decreasing and is fearful that complacency may be setting in. There is a tendency, Sgt. Monk says, to ignore the problem if it doesn’t immediately affect you. So people won’t read up or attend educational seminars offered that would better acquaint them with the effects of the drug. “Heroin addicts, however, reach out and touch everyone”, Monk says. The drug is so powerfully addictive that users will steal from their families and friends to support their habits. Often, people who are not aware of the person’s addiction will continually loan money to that person; or won’t prosecute if they discover the person has been stealing from them. “It’s simple, said Sgt. Monk, heroin destroys the life of the addict, their families and friends.”

Sgt. Steven Dunlop, one of the programs presenters says, “ We have reached out and offered this course to many groups in Harford County and many have taken advantage of this opportunity.” But, Dunlop added, we feel there are many who have not seen or heard the presentation and we believe they can benefit from the information provided.

The Heroin Alert Program began in 2000 and mirrored a successful program in New Castle County Delaware. The program was primarily designed to target high school and post-high school teens. However, according to Dunlop, this program impacts everyone. Dunlop explained when the program first started the County was experiencing a number of heroin deaths in victims aged 18-24. “We knew this age group still associated with friends in high school and therefore believed if we targeted high school teens we could prevent them from becoming involved in heroin use,” said Dunlop. It is a very graphic and emotional program that describes the drug itself and usage among individuals. It talks about the impact this drug has on family and friends and shows quite graphically what occurs to victims of heroin abuse who overdose and die.

Monk says this program is not your typical drug prevention/education program Heroin Alert deals in reality both focusing on the highly addictive nature of the drug and how that addiction can destroy your life and the lives of your family and friends. The presentation just doesn’t deal with numbers either. Faces of victims are attached with this program. The victims and their families are real people facing a real and extremely destructive drug addiction that if not treated will most likely result in death to the abuser. “Dying, as a heroin addict is not a legacy people should want to leave when they go,” said Sheriff R. Thomas Golding. We believe our program is informative and strongly encourage as many people to attend. “Just because you aren’t experiencing a drug problem in your family or among your friends doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attend” said Golding. To the contrary, the more people who understand this epidemic the more likely they are to help educate individuals and help police and County officials reduce the incidence of drug use, he concluded.

This program is open to community groups, church groups, and any organization that would like their employees or volunteers to have the training. For more information contact the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Community Policing Unit at 410-638-3713.

Press Release

May 12, 2004