GRANITE CITY, IL (KTVI) – A heartbroken mother shared her story of loss to students at Granite City High School during a special seminar Friday, a life lesson of how heroin and prescription drugs can turn into killers.
‘'My son died of a heroin overdose on November 4, 2013,” said Kari Karidis, describing the death of her son, Chaz, who overdosed on heroin at 23 years of age.
Kari was one of several speakers talking with the students about the deadly dangers of heroin and prescription drugs.
‘'I want the kids to be afraid of this drug because it will kill them. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” said Karidis.
The numbers in Madison County should make people afraid. Last year, there were 92 overdose deaths; 26 of them were from heroin and 55 from prescription drugs.
Karidis is part of a group that goes around to schools in the metro east, warning kids about heroin and prescription drugs. Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons is also in that group.
‘'The problem of prescription pain killer and heroin abuse and overdoses has been declared to be an epidemic, a medical epidemic in our country,” Gibbons said. ‘'We’re fighting for the future of our county. These young people are on the edge of adulthood and this is the time when they’re making those critical decisions and when some of them are making the critical mistakes.”
The group spoke with some 1,900 students today at Granite City High. They will address kids at Coolidge Junior High, also located in Granite City, on Monday.
Friday’s presentation brought some students to tears. Many left with a new knowledge of a very scary subject.
‘‘Just knowing all that is going around. You have no idea that these people around you are doing these things. They could be your best friend and you still don’t know,” said junior Stacie Johnson.
Junior Ben Klee added, ‘'It opened my eyes to see that, ‘Wow this is real,’ like heroin’s nothing to mess with, that actually it’s a real thing.”
Members of Friday’s group have talked to some 10,000 students about heroin and prescription drugs over the past two years.
Kari`s message to the kids about heroin is simple: "Don't ever try it. If you haven't tried it, don't start now."