The United States has experienced a spike in the number of overdoses, especially those resulting from the use of Heroin. The issue of addiction has reached such a fever pitch that opiates have begun infiltrating the suburbs in places like the North Shore area, to the shock of many parents and homeowners.
Ryan McTague, Principal at Niles North High School will attest to the rampant abuse of painkiller drugs, the issue of addiction become so common that kids are regularly caught trading pills between classes.
According to Ryan, the problem schools are facing today emanates from the fact that opiates are more accessible today than they have ever been, so much so that kids are growing up in an era where drug use is no longer taboo, hardly the practice that previous generations restricted to dark alleyways.
With the government falling behind in its efforts to control drug abuse, parents like PJ Newberg, a resident of Glenview whose 21-year-old daughter has been fighting heroin addiction since her days as a 16-year-old sophomore at Glenbrook South, have taken on the responsibility of educating people about the dangers of Heroin.
Newberg has joined forces with the Wilmette and Skokie police departments to bring her story to other concerned parents, holding presentations in the Northbrook Library, Deerfield Village Hall and the Glenview Library in 2014.
Newberg’s daughter has been in and out of rehab more than a dozen times over the years. Her numerous stints in jail and their inability to dissuade her from her life as a drug user are facts Newberg uses to bring home her message to parents about the destructive nature of heroin.
Her situation has only deteriorated over time, Newberg recently returning from a trip to West Palm Beach to report that her daughter had been hospitalized and part of her arm would have to be surgically removed due to complications arising from syringe use.
Newberg has no idea where her daughter is at the present, the tortured young girl having fled the hospital shortly after Newberg’s return to Illinois. Her daughter’s drug problem begun with her relationship to a former football player at Glenbrook South; and even her boyfriend’s death at the hands of heroin did little to persuade Newberg’s daughter to escape her drug habit.
Newberg rarely tells her story without breaking down, her inability to separate her daughter from the evils of heroin clearly torturing her. That the drug had so effectively stolen her values, morals and esteem, leaving only a shell of the person she knew clearly torments Newberg’s waking hours.
Newberg doesn’t really know why her daughter begun using heroin. Even as a child, she never took prescription pills like other addicts, and her parents made an effort to educate her about the dangers of drug abuse.
As such, it was a surprise to Newburg when she became consumed by her need to get high. The distraught mother has made it her goal to bring to light the North Shore area’s growing heroin problem, with the Niles North Parents Council already taking steps to compel schools in the area to act more decisively to curb the problem of addiction.
According to Principal Ryan McTague, the school district could do so much more to pinpoint the severity of opioid and heroin abuse in the area. He admits that while his teachers make an effort to educate children about the dangers of opioid medications, heroin abuse has never been on their radar.
It is this level of ignorance about the proliferation of heroin in schools and the suburbs that Newberg wants parents and teachers to fight against. The fact that the stigma surrounding heroin has changed so drastically for today’s generation of children is especially disturbing.