2012-03-15 / News

Mom shares family addiction story with Swan Valley parents


Bob Krug and Lori and Ali Piotraczk (above, left to right) from Fenton’s Community Parent, Inc. spoke to Swan Valley parents last week about the work their organization is doing to keep young people drug-free. 
Photo by Carol Somers Bob Krug and Lori and Ali Piotraczk (above, left to right) from Fenton’s Community Parent, Inc. spoke to Swan Valley parents last week about the work their organization is doing to keep young people drug-free. Photo by Carol Somers THOMAS TWP. - Lori Piotraczk never thought she would be standing in front of a room full of strangers warning them to keep an eye on their silverware drawers.

But when a parent attending a Swan Valley community forum on student drug and alcohol use asked Piotraczk about the warning signs of her sons’ heroin addiction, she didn’t mince words.

“All of our spoons were gone. I’d find them everywhere – in their rooms, under their mattresses,” she said.

Her 17-year-old daughter Ali explained that her older brothers were using spoons to cook heroin before injecting the drug. The family also noticed shoelaces missing from shoes because the young men were using them as makeshift tourniquets.

The Piotraczks and Bob Krug from Fenton’s Community Parent, Inc. joined Swan Valley School District administrators last Thursday as they shared the results of the Michigan Profile for Health Youth (MiPHY) survey taken by the district’s 7th, 9th and 11th graders last October.

The MiPHY is an online student health survey offered by the Michigan Departments of Education and Community Health to assess health risk behaviors including substance use, violence, physical activity, nutrition, sexual behavior. The survey also measures risk and protective factors most predictive of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use and violence.

Swan Valley Community Support Network President Duane Comerford invited the trio to share their experiences as members of Community Parent, a non-profit group that aims to combat student drug use and raise awareness among parents and community members. The group was formed last February after two Fenton teens, Briona Jawhari and Erika Schlosser, died two days apart after heroin overdoses.

Krug, who had coached Briona’s middle school debate team, said community members refused to “stick their heads in the sand,” after the tragedies.

In just over the year, the volunteer task force has grown to include local, county and state elected officials, law enforcement personnel, judges, healthcare providers, educators and others concerned about protecting youth from drug and alcohol addiction, depression, bullying and suicide.

A centerpiece of the group’s effort is a presentation entitled “Chasing the Dragon,” that includes segments with members of the Jawhari family and a local drug dealer. Krug said the most powerful part of the program is the audio of the 9-1-1 call Briona’s father made when he discovered his daughter’s lifeless body.

Some of Community Parent’s members are people like Piotraczk, who want to do whatever they can to keep other families from experiencing the pain of drug addiction.

Krug said one woman came to a meeting because she was concerned that her daughter had an eating disorder. After finding numerous foil squares in her daughter’s car and room, she thought the girl was binging on candy.

A police officer at the meeting identified the residue on the foil as heroin, not caramel.

Piotraczk told the Swan Valley audience how her younger son became addicted to painkillers when he was prescribed Darvocet after a football injury left him with five herniated disks in his back. His addiction grew to include stronger pain medications like Oxycontin, and eventually crack cocaine and heroin.

Her older son was drunk when he was offered heroin at a party. Piotraczk said inebriated teens are at risk for using drugs because their inhibitions are diminished, and because dealers give the first “hit” for free.

“They know if they get a kid addicted, they have a loyal customer,” she said.

According to a study by The Partnership at Drugfree.org, nearly one in five teens has abused prescription medication to get high.

Krug is not surprised. Teens are raiding their parents’ and grandparents’ medicine cabinets in search of prescription medication to use, share or sell, he said.

“When you get a prescription, do you keep track of how many pills are in the bottle? Most people wouldn’t notice if a few were missing, and kids know that.”

Thomas Township Police Chief Steven Kocsis encouraged parents to inventory their medicine cabinets and dispose of any prescriptions they aren’t using.

Kocsis said he is awaiting Drug Enforcement Agency approval for the township office to serve as a permanent site where residents can drop off expired, unused and unwanted medications.

In the meantime, the department will hold a prescription drug collection at the Thomas Township Easter Egg Hunt on March 25.

The Swan Valley Community Support Network is seeking members to join the group’s community outreach and education efforts. For more information, contact Duane Comerford at user100279@aol.com.

To learn more about Community Parent, Inc., visit www.communityparent.org.

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