Working to Fight Drug Abuse

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By Evie Allen

MT. VERNON -- Dozens of concerned citizens met in Mt. Vernon Friday to wage war against drug abuse. 

A public forum was held to educate, alert and discuss the rise of perscription drug and heroin addicition in southern Illinois and across the country. With a panel of guest speakers, parents and professionals met to join forces against the rising epidemic.     

"We are seeing more heroin coming into our region on the tail of the prescription drug abuse problem that we've had for some time," said forum moderator Angie Hampton.

Hampton is the CEO at Egyptian Health Department in Eldorado. She says to prevent the growing number of overdoses, a community and it's organizations must come together.

"We can't arrest our way out of it. We can't legislate our way out of it. We can't even treat our way out of this crisis," she said.

And one panel speaker knows all too well the impact drugs have on a family. Parent Advocate Chris Marler lost her two sons to overdoses in 2006.

"They had alcohol, some marijuana, heroin but not enough heroin to kill them. And then they took an over the counter, one took an antihistamine and one took a sleep aid," she explained.

She said they both were intelligent with bright futures. Marler says it's important to look for signs of changed behavior like poor hygiene and lack of motivation or stolen money.

"I believe that our community needs help and somebody's got to do it. Somebody has to start somewhere. We've lost too many of our kids."

She now dedicates her life to sharing her story so her son's deaths won't be in vain.

"I wouldn't want anyone to walk the path that my family has walked this past eight years, if I can help it," Marler said.

The goal of the forum was for the group to create an action plan. The plan involves educating the public, schools, law enforcement and kids about addiction and where to go for help. 

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