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Task force will aid Muskego's heroin battle

School district joins fight to slow growing drug-abuse problem

Linda Lenz discusses the heartbreak of heroin addiction in young people with Muskego-Norway School Board President Jim Schaefer at a School Board meeting last August. The meeting was packed with people who want to help keep children off of prescription drugs and heroin.

Linda Lenz discusses the heartbreak of heroin addiction in young people with Muskego-Norway School Board President Jim Schaefer at a School Board meeting last August. The meeting was packed with people who want to help keep children off of prescription drugs and heroin.

Nov. 4, 2013

Muskego — The 40 or so people who packed a Muskego-Norway School Board meeting in August to focus attention on how heroin has already proved deadly to local youth are starting to see some school district action.

As a result of that meeting, which included a dramatic video produced by one parent showing area young people talking about the real problems associated with heroin, the district is now looking at forming a task force to come up with a plan of attack.

"We are interested in developing a plan to educate and build awareness of the dangers of prescription drugs, particularly the opiates, because they are a doorway to heroin," Superintendent Kelly Thompson said.

The task force would include representatives from the entire community — possibly including the Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce, health care providers such as Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, businesses, law enforcement, parents and teachers, said Muskego parent Linda Lenz, who is spearheading the drive.

Lenz's son died of an overdose earlier this year.

At the August meeting, those in attendance spoke of the painful losses of their children and siblings to heroin and they wanted to help any way they could to keep children off of the drug.

The problem is mainly that young people take their parents' or grandparents' prescription pain pills such as oxycodone or Percocet, run out of them and switch to heroin, which is basically the same as the prescription drugs, Lenz explained.

Acting on concerns

Lenz and her supporters especially want two things of the schools. One is for the video, which Lenz produced, to be shown to students. The other is for the pamphlet "Heroin is Talking to Your Children, Shouldn't You Be?" to be given to all parents.

The task force will consider the video for health classes, as well as providing opportunities for parents to view it, Thompson said.

The panel also will likely consider how to best use the offers of help from the people who packed the meeting. Such volunteers could raise money for staff or equipment or speak to classes.

The video, which is on YouTube, was a bone of contention for a while between Lenz and school officials. School officials disagreed with the Muskego High School football player's contention on the video that the team took heroin or prescription drugs to win.

Even though in her view the player's contribution was believable, Lenz finally edited him out because it would be too hard to substantiate his claims, she said.

"I don't want to be out there and be wrong," she said.

To look further into this allegation, however, the school police liaison officer planned to contact the two recently graduated and former Muskego High School football players who are now jailed on heroin charges. She also was to speak with the football team, Thompson said.

Safety loophole

A false sense of security may have arisen about the size of the drug problem at Muskego High because the school routinely gets a clean bill of health in drug searches by drug-sniffing police dogs. Lenz said she was told that kids keep drugs on them to avoid the dogs discovering them in their lockers and police dogs don't sniff students for drugs.

Muskego Police Chief Craig Moser said drug dogs aren't allowed to look for drugs on students for safety reasons.

"You don't know how the dog will react. It could scratch or grab and hold," Moser explained.

Fighting drugs is frustrating because police need tips to follow up, he said.

"We are looking for assistance from the community and kids who want a drug-free school," Moser said.

THE FLY EFFECT

To illustrate the unexpected and uncontrollable spiral associated with heroin addiction, the Wisconsin Department of Justice launched "The fly Effect," a heroin prevention public awareness campaign.

It's name, "the Fly Effect," is inspired by the nursery rhyme, "There was an old lady who swallowed a fly..." The escalating trouble the old lady has as she deals with the repercussions of swallowing the fly mirror the path of the heroin user.

Designed to catch the imagination of teenagers, visitors to the website are prompted to make a short series of decisions related to heroin. All the questions are designed to illustrate the painful and often devastating choices associated with abuse.

The site is at theflyeffect.com.

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