Powerful anti-opioid program coming to schools


There are three things Madison County Coroner James Kaehr, M.D. wants teens to know about heroin and opioid painkillers.

• People can get addicted to pain pills — even if they are in real or severe pain.

• Brain damage caused by heroin and pain pills causes humiliating and disfiguring choices.

• The brain of anyone on drugs cannot be trusted.

Those messages regarding the dangers of heroin and painkillers like fentanyl, oxycodone and Percocet will be hammered home to all county high school students, beginning in September, via a non-lecturing, fact-based video prepared by Dr. Kaehr and staff from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and common pleas court.

They previewed the video on Friday, Aug. 25, at Tolles Career & Technical Center to a handful of administrators from all five county high schools. All appeared to find the video’s first-hand narrative, graphic autopsy and crime-scene photos a “powerful” way to convey the dangers of opioid abuse.

“It’s very powerful,” said London High School Principal Chad Eisler. “It will be of great benefit to our students.”

Tolles Superintendent Emmy Beeson said both high school and middle school students should be exposed to the message.

“Most 13-year-olds already know someone who is using (opioids),” she noted.

Focus of the presentation is on Madison County, which has recorded nine heroin/opioid deaths this year. That number may rise since additional suspicious deaths remain under investigation, Dr. Kaehr said.

One of those deaths, that of London resident Marcus Redmond last January, is a centerpiece of the presentation. Redmond’s family permitted the use of his story and autopsy photos.

Redmond’s sister, Tonia, tells of her brother’s painful descent from a high school football standout into addiction and death, despite repeated trips to rehab facilities. His autopsy showed he had both fentanyl and another drug that is resistant to Narcan — the opioid antidote — in his system. As a result, 12 doses of Narcan failed to revive Marcus.

Actual brain scans are used to illustrate the death of another local heroin user, identified only as “Mr. B.” Those scans show extra fluid in the space between the skull and brain, which adversely affects a user’s reasoning.

“Mr. B” had attempted to hide packets of heroin in his rectum. Those packets disintegrated, causing his body to absorb a massive overdose. Instead of calling 911, he called a friend who tried to reverse the heroin effects with a “speedball” of cocaine. The combination of drugs killed Mr. B, despite attempts by medics to revive him.

Then there’s a young Circleville woman who was dumped by a “friend” and left to die in a ditch outside Mount Sterling. The woman had overdosed on heroin and was unconscious. Instead of calling 911, her male companion wanted rid of the drug evidence and left her — still alive — by the side of the road. Photos of the woman’s vomit-covered body are in the presentation.

National statistics say 35 percent of high school students will try an illegal drug at some point in their school careers.

In addition, Dr. Kaehr will tell local high schoolers to expect to be offered some sort of pain medications for a variety of reasons in the next five to 10 years. He will caution them to be aware of the danger they present.

Opioid addiction “starts with one pill,” he emphasized.

The Madison County Opioid Presentation will travel to West Jefferson High School on Sept. 8, London High School on Sept. 15 and Madison-Plains High School on Sept. 22.

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Madison County Coroner Dr. James Kaehr describes the effects opioid addiction on local residents during a video presentation for county educators on Friday.
http://www.madison-press.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2017/08/web1_Opioidpic1cool.jpgMadison County Coroner Dr. James Kaehr describes the effects opioid addiction on local residents during a video presentation for county educators on Friday. Jane Beathard | For The Madison Press

Madison County Common Pleas Judge Eamon Costello introduces local mental health, law enforcement and court personnel, as well as coroner Dr. James Kaehr, who worked on a video regarding the dangers of opioid addiction during a presentation on Friday. The video will be shown to county high school students in September.
http://www.madison-press.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2017/08/web1_Opioidpic2col.jpgMadison County Common Pleas Judge Eamon Costello introduces local mental health, law enforcement and court personnel, as well as coroner Dr. James Kaehr, who worked on a video regarding the dangers of opioid addiction during a presentation on Friday. The video will be shown to county high school students in September. Jane Beathard | For The Madison Press
Local examples show Madison County students tragedy of drugs

By Jane Beathard

For The Madison Press

Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Madison Press.