ERIE, Pa. -- Mary Kay Eiser-Wlodarczyk lost her son Collin Eisert-Wlodarczyk to an overdose on March 28, 2012.
Since then she has been educating the community and serving as an adviser to the Lake Erie Youth ROAD Crew. The group uses a trailer called “Hidden in Plain Sight” to teach parents about warning signs found in children’s bedrooms.
"In general, you always hear: if their grades are dropping, if they change friends, if their behavior is changing, and that may or may not hold true,” said Eiser-Wlodarczyk. “I can tell you for every rule, there is an exception."
Eiser-Wlodarczyk was among eight panelists who spoke at a forum at Mercyhurst University about fighting the opioid crisis. From treatment centers to law enforcement, the people at the forefront of the battle said they are working together.
Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri said, "We're not just all about arresting the individuals and putting them in jail, because truth be told: we're not going to incarcerate our way out of this opioid crisis."
In 2016, there were 95 deaths in linked to accidental overdose in Erie County. Thus far, this year, there have already been more than 100 overdose deaths, according to county officials.
Daneri said the number of lives saved through the use of Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, is likely even higher.
"A year and half ago, getting Narcan into all the law enforcement hands, first of all, to start saving lives" has helped. He said, Erie County will “continue to prosecute the individuals who are bringing the drugs into our community."
Experts said addiction is a chronic disease that alters the chemical makeup and structure of the brain. Eiser-Wlodarczyk said thinking that the crisis won’t hit home, could be dangerous.
"A recovering drug addict once told me, as soon as you think it won't to you are immediately more vulnerable, because you've let your guard down."
The following is a list resources from organizations represented at the forum:
Heroin Overdose Awareness by Erie County Office of Drug & Alcohol Abuse
Esper Treatment Center
Lake Erie Youth ROAD Crew
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