By Lynne Phillips
Imagine it was your 20 year old child who died from a heroin overdose.
During a video shown during Monday night’s New London Board of Education meeting T.J. and Heidi Riggs, the parents of child who died of a heroin overdose said when their daughter was found to be a heroin addict they were shocked.
Marin, they said, was a beautiful, vibrant, outgoing, friendly girl who they never suspected had self-esteem issues.
It wasn’t until the spoons began disappearing, Heidi commented, that they began to question what was going on. “It wasn’t just one, two or three spoons, it was most of them. Then money began disappearing and then a $380 gas charge on TJ’s business credit card bill came in the mail. But it wasn’t until Marin crashed into the mailbox and she was charged and failed a drug test that we knew for sure she was using heroin.
“That is when it all made sense,” Heidi said.
“Marin entered rehab, relapsed and went to rehab again. After 180 days of sobriety she relapsed again.” With tears in their eyes Marin’s parents said, they took each day as it came, asking for “one more day”.
Marin had barely turned 20, and the birthday outfit her mother had bought her became her burial outfit.
From a letter written by Marin and shown in the video, she said, “Dear Heroin, Before I met you I was full of life. At least from what I thought. Then the problems started coming my way that gave me the excuse to meet you. It was love at first sight. Not only did you do things for me, but boy did I do things for you, I lied to my family and friends, to myself and even steal. Our relationship went to hell and you really almost took me away forever. You had me for seven minutes.
“I won this battle and will never have to suffer again.
“Sincerely, your worst enemy, Marin Riggs.”
Marin’s body was found by her dad and brother.
Given the deaths in Ohio and specifically Huron County from drug overdoses, it seems necessary for schools to take action, according to New London High School Principal Cosetta Adkins.
Adkins and her building leadership team made a presentation regarding student drug testing during the meeting.
Adkins noted Ohio is ranked number one in overdose deaths in the nation.
“Students are coming into my office who have relatives who have died from overdoses or telling me stories of things they are encountering, so we (the building leadership team) decided to look at starting our own drug testing policy.”
Dawn Luedy told board members her health class assisted her in putting together a powerpoint presentation detailing the purpose of the proposed testing, the results of an anonymous survey, who tests, local statistics, accidental overdose deaths in Huron County 2010-2014 and shared the video of “Marin’s Story”.
The purpose of drug testing according to Luedy is to provide an excuse for students to say NO to drug use because of its possible consequence and:
- To provide a healthy and safe environment to all students participating in the athletic and extracurricular activities.
- To discourage all students from using drugs and alcohol. Students will assume all responsibility for regulating their personal lives in ways that will result in their becoming healthy members of a team and worthy representatives of the school and community.
- To provide students with the opportunity to become leaders in the student body for a drug free school.
- To provide solutions for the student who does use drugs and alcohol.
- To provide the school with positive guidelines and disciplinary policies for violations of the drug free policy.
- To encourage those students who participate in athletic and extracurricular programs to remain drug and alcohol free.
Luedy said in the past year 326 students took an anonymous survey and results showed 242 students said they have never used alcohol, 27 students indicated they have used alcohol once or twice and 11 said they used alcohol monthly and four said weekly.
Two hundred eighty six students said they never used marijuana, 21 said they have used marijuana once or twice, 11 have used it weekly and four use monthly.
Two hundred twenty five said they have never used prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them, 29 students said they tried them once or twice, three used them weekly and two monthly.
Three hundred eighteen students said they have never used illegal drugs, four students said they used them once or twice, one said they used weekly and one said monthly.
Three hundred twelve students said they had never used inhalants, five said they used once or twice, eight used weekly and one monthly.
Three hundred seventeen students have not used herbs, seven said once or twice, two weekly and one monthly.
Schools in the Firelands Conference who currently drug test include Crestview, South Central, Western Reserve and Plymouth. Other schools include: Bellevue, Firelands, Keystone, Seneca East, Shelby, Vermillion and Wellington.
Local statistics from Huron County Sheriff’s Department, Deputy Mitchell Cawrse show overdose incidents with the police involved in 2016 totaled 123, 17 in 2013 and 30 in 2014.
Involving drug paraphernalia in 2016 there were 94 incidents, 90 in 2015 and 87 in 2014.
Drug possession - 137 in 2016, 138 in 2015 and 184 in 2014.
Drug Trafficking incidents 8 in 2016, three in 2015 and three in 2014.
Additional statistics relating to drug usage from 2014 to 2016 include crimes such as grand, petty, shopping and motor vehicle thefts. Luedy noted the theft crimes are typically committed in order for people to buy drugs.
Accidental deaths by overdose in Huron County have seen a sharp rise as have those in Ohio.Information about drug testing will be presented to the public during community forums, according to district superintendent Brad Romano, with the dates to be announced.