Heroin Use Discussed by Activists, Police & Fire Chiefs at Covington Meeting
"I guarantee you, Casey did not know the first he used that he was going to become addicted. No one wants to be addicted."
Charlotte Wethington held up a framed photograph of her son, Casey, and displayed it to members of the Austinburg Neighborhood Association on Monday night.
"This is the face of addiction," she said. "It is an equal opportunity disease. I know Casey never intended to become an addict."
The Covington neighborhood welcomed Wethington, a representative from the Kenton County Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse, and the chiefs of the city's fire and police departments to speak to residents.
Casey's Law is named for Wethington's son who died at the age of 23 from a heroin overdose more than ten years ago. It allows for involuntary drug treatment for adults to be recommended by friends or family. Because Casey was over the age of eighteen, Charlotte and her husband were left helpless in 2003 and before in trying to secure help for their troubled son.
"Casey overdoses three times," Wehtington said Monday. "We were not allowed to make any decision before this because he was over th egae of eighteen and it had to be his choice. He did not understand that he could make that choice."
At the time of his final overdose, Casey was in a coma at University Hospital in Cincinnati. "We could decide if we wanted a feeding tube, a cage in his lung to capture blood clots, or have his life support turned off," she said. "Here's something you can take to the bank: the person has to be alive to recover. Thats why it's important for us to do all we can while we can to get help for this individual, whatever it takes."
The tenth anniversary of Casey's Law will be July 13. "We wanted Casey to live in the worst way. We wanted to donate his organs but we couldn't because he was an I.V. drug user," said Wethington, who lives in Morning View and is a retired Kenton County Schools teacher. "But I do believe that God had a much bigger plan for Casey because he's saving more lives today through the law that was passed in his name than he would have by donating his organs."
Lisa Anglin of the Kenton County Alliance hopes to reach children before they try heroin.
"Many times kids are starting with other drugs and sometimes that's viewed as socially acceptable or a rite of passage," Anglin said Monday. "We try to back up to prevent kids from thinking it's acceptable to use alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or other substances so that those things don't lead on to harder drugs or alter their lives in other ways."
Anglin said that not all kids who drink or use drugs move on to harder drugs but, "It's worth taking a chance to prevent that," she said.
One area where families should keep an eye out is in their medicine cabinets where kids often find drugs to abuse for the first time. She encouraged neighbors to dispose of outdated prescriptions at any one of the twelve drop box locations in the county, all located at police departments. 550 pounds of precription drugs and 140 pounds of over-the-counter drugs have been turned in at these stations.