Randolph County students hear anti-heroin message
13 investigates continues to look into the growing problem of Heroin in the Heartland.
We started shining a light on the danger earlier this month and on Wednesday, three school districts cleared their morning class schedules to try to curb their own growing heroin problem with young students.
Randolph County is a big county with a small population. Everyone seems to know each other. So when a young man Matt Koch died two weeks ago from a heroin overdose there, it hit hard, and accelerated efforts to decrease demand for heroin in their hometown.
The audience of seventh through twelfth graders arrived on 40 school busses. The message waiting inside was direct.
"Right now in Randolph County the focus is on heroin," said Tammy Watson, Indiana State Police.
The mission is to direct these young lives away from a killer.
"You risk your life every time you use heroin," said Judge Peter Haviza.
Watson, a former undercover officer, asked about their access.
"Raise your hand if you have ever seen marijuana, heroin and cocaine," she said.
Most hands stayed up when she asked if they were offered the drugs and knew where to get some this weekend.
"That's pitiful," said Watson.
But it was a reality for Dustin Durham.
"I am an addict. I will be an addict for the rest of my life," he said.
Durham got hooked on heroin between his junior and senior year.
"I am over the embarrassment now," he said.
Durham is going public with his personal battle in front of 1,500 students.
"He hasn't spoken before a crowd of ten," said Carla Durham, Dustin's mother.
The seniors in this crowd were freshmen when Dustin was in school. He wants them to know what he didn't know then.
"I didn't know how big of a problem; I didn't know about how addictive the substance was. I didn't know anything about it and by the time I knew anything about it was already too late. It got me and had control of me within two or three times of use," he said.
"Just let your mind run wild. We've been through, done it and we are tough people. His mother is tough...I mean tough, and she can give tough love and I can too," said Trent Durham, Dustin's father.
"You just cannot give up on your kids. It does not matter what your neighbors think, what your coworkers think, what your friends think. It doesn't matter. You have to take care of your kid as best you can and get as much help as you possibly can," said Carla.
"I was ready to give up on him before she was. I'm glad I didn't but I was ready to," said Trent.
Their intervention efforts worked, and now they want others to be informed and ask for help.
US Attorney Joe Hogsett urged the students to embrace what he called the ten most powerful two-letter words
"If it is to be, it is up to me," he said.
The hope is they are listening.
"Seeing what he had to go through, it hurts people and I think it changes peoples mind," said Damon Caylor, a senior at Winchester Community High School.
"I think if people don't know, they are naive. I think people need to know about it," said Marissa Bales, also a senior at Winchester.
Dustin has been drug free for one year and five months. He is determined to stay that way.
"Recovery is not easy. It's a very long process and very hard, very destructive on you and your family; everybody around you. I just don't want to go through recovery again. I just don't, and that is one of the things that keeps me clean," he said.
It's not pretty - and that's the point. The county sheriff and Joe Hogsett commended the school for taking a lead role.