The Heroin Summit

Informative, Alarming…


No one is immune!

This is real, but there is hope!

We all need to own this.

Focus on the young; focus on the parents!

The cartel’s business model is simple: target affluent communities where there are fewer guns; more cash.

These are some of the messages that representatives of forty Alliance school districts heard yesterday at the Alliance-sponsored “Heroin Summit” held at Worthington Kilbourne High School.

The nearly 200 in attendance were quieted by a short video chronicling the trials of a former high school basketball and golf star who succumbed to heroin at age 20. Blessed with caring parents, Marin Riggs appeared to have everything: good grades, a heart-stopping smile, athletic success and a promising future. But, even after several months of rehab, and more than a half year of sobriety, she couldn’t escape the destructive power of heroin. Her poignant letter to the drug, itself, found in her journal by Marin’s mother, was a testament to the agony/ecstasy relationship Marin felt toward her tormentor. No one who sees this video will ever forget the quality of the life that has been snuffed out or the tragic impact upon the family of the victim.

The importance of the State’s efforts to end heroin addiction was underscored by the participation of Ohio Governor John Kasich and State Attorney General Mike DeWine. Both men declared their commitment to the statewide program, “Protecting Ohio’s Families: Start Talking,” and both emphasized that success could only be achieved through comprehensive community-based efforts. Kasich referred to statistics that demonstrated a 50% reduction in the use of drugs by young people whose parents discussed drugs and drug abuse with them at an early age.

DeWine talked about Ohio’s nearly 2,000 heroin-related deaths in 2013, approximately 700 of which resulted from overdoses. He went on to say that heroin has burrowed deep into the fabric of our culture and is being delivered to our homes like an order of pizza.

Both men hammered away at the need for local grassroots programs focusing on education, prevention and treatment, targeting all of Ohio’s young people and their parents.

Tracy Plouck, Director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Marcie Seidel, Executive Director of the Drug Free Action Alliance, followed. Director Plouck discussed programs and funding available from her department and Ms. Seidel talked about recognizing risk factors and available prevention programs designed to help young people avoid the heroin trap. The group also heard from Avon Police Chief, Richard Bosley; Judge Scott D. Vanderkarr, of the Franklin County Drug Court; Andy Wilson, Clark County Prosecutor, and Heidi Riggs, Marin’s mother.

The formal program was followed by a work session led by Jennifer Biddinger of the Attorney General’s office, during which district teams sat together at work tables and discussed the organization of new community efforts or adapting some of the ideas that had been discussed earlier into existing programs.

Dr. Thomas Tucker, Superintendent of Alliance member, Worthington Schools, welcomed attendees and participants to Kilbourne High School and introduced State Superintendent Dick Ross who acknowledged ODE’s awareness of the epidemic and the role schools must play in helping students avoid the temptation of drugs by educating them about the risks involved.

Paul Imhoff, Alliance chair and Superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools followed with a stirring call to arms citing the tragedy and sadness inflicted by heroin addiction and the need for schools to take the lead in developing effective community programs.

The informative, alarming “Heroin Summit” is history.

Now the work begins.