Audio and photo album: Moravian Church town hall forum on heroin

Amy Gohdes-Luhman, pastor of the Main Street Moravian Church, organized and hosted a town hall forum on heroin today. Panelists included:

Cick play to listen or download the MP3

  • Podium presentations: 0 to 1 hr, 24 minutes.
  • Panelist Q&A: 1:24:00 to 2 hr 42 min.


See the Rice County Chemical Health Coalition’s Chemical Health Resource Directory on the Northfield HCI site for a huge listing of area services.

See the album of 10 photos or this slideshow:


  1. Anthony Pierre said:

    I attended the event yesterday and also listened to the podcast.

    what I came away with is that prescription pain pills are the main problem.

    I don’t know if there is enough education that links pain pills to heroin.

    November 17, 2008
  2. Curt Benson said:

    I went to the event Sunday too. Here’s my summary of what the speakers said about prescription pain pills.

    The typical Northfielder that has problems with opiate addiction first exposure to opiates was in the form of prescription pain pills. The pills may have been prescribed to them for dental procedures or sports related injuries. The pills may have come from the medicine chests of family or friends.

    People perceive prescription pain pills to be “safe”. After all, they’re prescribed by doctors, and manufactured in factories.

    Some people really like the feeling they get with pain pills. They may seek more pills on the street market. Prescription pain pills are available on the street in Northfield. But their supply is unreliable and they are very expensive. However, heroin is reliably and readily available. And it is cheaper than pain pills.

    Anthony, you are correct. There is not enough education linking pain pills to heroin.

    November 18, 2008
  3. Peter C. Bjorklund said:

    I was also at this meeting, and I also am an addict and alcoholic in recovery formerly from Northfield. I would have to partially disagree that pills are the problem, at least in Northfield. Pills were more of an instigator to Northfield’s problem. There was a time in town where pain pills were the problem, there was enough availability for people to become physically addicted. When those pills lost their availability, heroin took over.

    There was a time when there were about three main pill dealers, between these three, the availability of oxy contin was constant, two of these dealers lost their connections and after their use of heroin, they went into recovery (and are doing very well). The other one went to jail in April or May after being caught with these pills. There may still be a small-time availability of these pills but, as of now, Northfield’s main problem is heroin.

    I do however agree that pills may be part of the problem in the sense that many heroin users may experience opiates for the first time in the form of pain killers. This may play a part in opening the door for heroin, but I think that was more the case when heroin was first being introduced to Northfield. Now, having been around for some time, I believe heroin is more widely accepted by Northfield’s drug community. I am sure most heroin users first experienced opiates in pill form, and this is a problem that can be made better, but can never be fixed based on the fact that there will always be people that require pain killers for legitimate medical purposes.

    Parents can help lessen this problem by doing a few things. They can start by disposing of left over pills (properly- not flushing them down the toilet) after they are no longer needed. They can control their kid’s use of pain killers when they receive them for a medical issue. Also, when their children receive pain killers for medical issues, they can explain to their children that their pills will do more than kill pain (for more information, consult a physician). These are just some easy things that can be done to help curb opiate use, there are many more of course.

    However, there are many sleazy drug dealers out there, like the one who first sold heroin in Northfield, he placed the heroin powder in capsules and told his buyers they were a pain killer called Dilaudid, and that they came from Mexico. There are many ways people get mixed up with opiates, and yes, pain killers may have been a large instigator in the past, but I believe this is not nearly the case now that heroin is more widely accepted around Northfield. I also think that anything that can be done to educate people and anything that can be done to prevent the availability of pain killers will help the problem, but there are still those out there that need help with their heroin problems.

    November 18, 2008
  4. Curt Benson said:

    I’ve got google news alerts set to turn up news about heroin use in suburbs and small towns, ie Northfieldish places. If you care to check it out yourself, google the following places with the word “heroin” and you’ll find lots of info: Fairfax County, Pewaukee, Portage Michigan.

    Here’s a website from a suburb of Hartford, CT that is experiencing a heroin problem. It has links to ABC news stories that reinforce the idea that heroin can be a consequence of the easy availability of prescription narcotics:

    November 29, 2008

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