In South St. Louis a grandmother is mourning the deaths of both her son and grandson, who left behind three young children. In Kirkwood, a father grieves after finding his 16-year-old daughter dead in her bedroom in 2014. Another Kirkwood father struggles with the shock that his teenage son became addicted to prescription painkillers when his wisdom teeth were extracted and died of a heroin overdose 3 years later.
And Michael Fitzwalter, 22 years-old, who died of an accidental heroin overdose. His parents will share their story to educate and spread awareness of the dangers of opiates. “We want to empower others with the knowledge that we have learned throughout this journey for the purpose of prevention and or early intervention.”
What these deaths have taught us: Addiction is a multifaceted, complex behavior. Its causes differ for each individual, but social, environmental, and biological issues apparently play a role. Opioids change the brain, making rehabilitation difficult to sustain. Studies have shown a correlation between genes and addiction. Research also suggests that addictive behavior is greatly influenced by peer groups. As the complexity of addiction unfolds, many questions continue.
In 2015, 800 people died in Missouri as a result of addiction to prescription opioids and heroin. The following year, in 2016, the number increased 32 percent to 1,371. Learn why the numbers continue to grow…and how this tragedy is being addressed in our community.
Speakers: Howard Weissman, Executive Director, National Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse-St. Louis Area;Ellis and Patti Fitzwalter, whose son died from an accidental heroin overdose
For more than 50 years, NCADA has worked to reduce—and actually prevent—the harms associated with alcohol and other drug use. NCADA provides programming and information to schools, families, the media, and communities. NCADA educates the public about the ongoing heroin epidemic and aired anti-heroin ads during the past three local broadcasts of the Super Bowl.
Before taking the helm at NCADA in 2013, Weissman spent more than 25 years as President and CEO of the EASE program, an employee assistance program in Belleville, IL. A graduate of the Washington University Brown School of Social Work, Mr. Weissman is a licensed clinical social worker.