Addiction to heroin is growing at a rapid pace throughout the
country. The drug is highly addictive and easy to get hold of, plus
it is cheap, making it easier for even those with meager means to
obtain and use the drug.
The HCP began holding monthly meetings drawing participation from
local schools and churches, law enforcement, medical professionals,
and many others with an interest in curtailing drug use in our
The work began with adoption of a ‘Four Pillars’ approach. The four
components: Prevention – Treatment - Enforcement - Harm
Now identified as the Heroin Task Force, the large group broke into
four focus groups. Then groups began alternating meetings as small
groups aiming at assessment, direction and action; then sharing with
the larger group.
Because the heroin is active locally, the treatment and harm
reduction pillars became a very important first step for Logan
Nadia Klekamp of Chestnut Health Systems shared some statistics on
- Heroin use has increased significantly in the past few
years, and it continues to rise.
- The number of people who die from heroin-related overdoses
in the United States is nearly four times what it was a decade
- Heroin use and overdose has increased significantly in Logan
County over the past ten years.
- Twenty-three percent of people who use heroin become
dependent on it, making it the most addictive drug.
The Pillar group working through how to provide treatment for
addiction realized their goal would have to be to not only treat
the addict, but also save the life of the addict from a drug
A drug called Narcan can reverse the effects of heroin, and
revive an overdose victim, if administered quickly.
To do this, the antidote drug would need to be made available to
all first responders in Logan County.
The cost of the Narcan kits was identified as a barrier. While
all agreed that the drug would save lives and was necessary, the
funding to purchase the drug for first responders was not
available. There was some state funding available for EMT’s, but
there was no funding available to provide Narcan to police
officers, who are often first on a scene.
The answer to that barrier would have to be community
St. John United Church of Christ got involved with the Narcan
fundraising when the heroin epidemic hit close to home for the
church family. A couple in the church had a grandson die of a
The couple had been particularly close to their grandson,
playing a big role in his upbringing. When they learned that he
had a drug addiction, they had done all that they could to help
him through the process of getting clean. They had given love
and support, and had seen to it that he got the treatments he
needed, even to the point of being the ones to drive him to a
The grandson did get clean for a time. One of the keys to
staying clean for an addict is that the addict has to separate
him or herself from the “old friends” who he or she did drugs
with. For this young man, it was an occasion where he went to
see some of his old friends, the drugs came out, he overdosed,
was abandoned by his friends and he died.
If the police or an ambulance had been called, and if the drug
had been available to administer, this could have been a
life-saved, and a second chance for someone to recover and live
a full life.
While this family was aware that the young man had an addiction
problem, many families learn too late that their loved ones are
involved in drugs. To have a counter measure that can save the
life of an addict can bring the addiction out into the open.
Then the family and other supporters have the opportunity to
reach out to the drug user and offer their help and support.
St. John also found some valuable partners in their fundraising
ReNew Thrift and Consignment offers a fundraising program
through in-store sales and agreed to ongoing fundraisers
throughout the year for the Narcan Project.
Culver’s Restaurant in Lincoln has participated in regular
And, other organizations and businesses such as the Lincoln
Rotary and Logan Lanes also have gotten involved.
By the end of 2016 the church and its many partners had raised
just over $2,500 for the Narcan supply. The money was given to
the Logan County Department of Public Health for the purchase of
the kits specifically to be distributed to police officers.
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The use of Narcan is becoming more widely accepted, and many
communities throughout the state are working to get the life-saving
drug to first responders.
Within some of those areas, there is an argument that Narcan offers
addicts a "free pass" in that they know they can get high because
the EMT's or police officers will save them. That is not the way any
one should look at this drug. Instead, reversing a deadly overdose
needs to be seen as saving a life and giving a person a chance to
get clean; that is what the first responders want; it is what the
family of the addict wants, and hopefully, that will also be the end
goal of the drug user as well.
In Lincoln, Police Chief Paul Adams and Lincoln Fire Chief Mark
Miller say that they now have Narcan in the police squads as well as
the EMT response vehicle at the fire department, and both
departments have utilized the drugs to reverse overdoses in the last
year; proving there is a need and the drug is effective.
Treatment and recovery
With a second chance before them, the next hurdle for a drug user is
to choose to seek help. However, choosing to seek help and treatment
for addiction comes with a new set of roadblocks.
In Logan County there are no treatment centers for addiction.
Addicts have access to treatment centers through referrals from
local authorities or medical professionals, but getting to the
appropriate center can be the challenge.
The Heroin Task Force realized that another step to recovery where
drug users need help is getting transportation to centers. To
address this, the task force set out to raise money to pay
General Opioid Treatment Assistance Fund
The task force has established a fund that works through local
police departments to get those seeking treatment for addiction to
an appropriate facility. Expenses paid by the fund include
purchasing gas cards for volunteers who are providing transportation
to treatment facilities.
Once again, it was St. John UCC which was the first to step up to
the plate and work to supply this need. The church partnering with
the Lincoln Community High School National Honor Society and
Culver's Restaurant in Lincoln held the first General Opioid
Treatment Assistance Fundraiser on January 15th. At that first
fundraiser the group raised approximately $200.
The Heroin Task Force and its working groups continue to meet on a
regular basis. In addition to addressing treatment, the groups work
to establish programs for prevention, enforcement, and harm
The prevention programs will include education for children and
parents to stop early experimentation with drugs and alcohol.
Because drug use is obviously illegal, local law enforcement
agencies are working on a number of projects that are not for public
knowledge, but the goal is to reduce the availability of the drug in
our community, and to prosecute those who sell illegal drugs to our
While a great deal of money was raised for the Narcan kits, the kits
are also quite expensive and the need for replenishment continues.
Additional funding will be required for Narcan, as well as to
support the General Opioid Treatment Assistance Fund.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELING SERVICES