Anti-drug coalition to host screening of opiate documentary ‘Chasing the Dragon’

The recently established Isanti County Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery Coalition is holding a public screening of “Chasing the Dragon:

The Life of an Opiate Addict,” a documentary about heroin and opiate drug abuse, on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m.  

The screening will take place in the Richard G. Hardy Performing Arts Center at Cambridge-Isanti High School, and it will be accompanied by a community conversation with a panel of local experts. Refreshments including pizza will be provided starting at 5:30 p.m., with the film following at 6:30 p.m. In addition, parents who attend the event will be able to walk through a mock bedroom where they will be told about signs they can look for in their kids’ rooms if they suspect drug use.

The event is being co-hosted by the Isanti County Community Adolescent Advisory Team.

Deb Natzel, who works as Isanti County Family Services’ Rule 25 coordinator, started the Isanti County Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery Coalition after attending a conference on opiate addiction at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Prior to the coalition’s formation, Natzel said Isanti County was the only county in the area without something like it. There had been a coalition focused specifically on methamphetamine prevention, but it is no longer in operation.

Natzel does not want the new coalition to become focused solely on one drug, like the meth coalition was, but she said heading off the incoming heroin trend was a motivating factor for forming the coalition.

“‘I would never use needles’ – that used to be the line in the sand,” Natzel said of the heroin and opioid epidemic. “That line has been erased.”

“Chasing the Dragon” was produced by the FBI and the DEA to highlight both prescription drug and heroin abuse. It features interviews with people who have abused the drugs, as well as law enforcement personnel, including FBI Director James Comey and acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.

“It’s gritty, it’s real, it’s not warm and fuzzy,” Natzel said of the documentary. “I wouldn’t have super young people in the audience.”

According to Natzel, heroin is becoming a drug trend partly because people aren’t well-informed about it.

“I think that people just don’t know,” she said. “They think that heroin is a big-city thing.”

The Isanti County Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery Coalition is looking for more involvement, including from grant writers willing to do some pro bono work at first. Their next meeting will take place on Jan. 13, Natzel said.

For more information on the screening of “Chasing the Dragon” or on the Isanti County Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery Coalition, call 763-689-8141.

Source: Isanti-County News, January 4, 2017

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