Pekin Event Aims to Educate Public About Addiction

A mother who lost her son to a heroin overdose last year has gone lengths to increase awareness about the dangers of addiction. She has organized the first annual Fight the Fight Addiction Awareness Walk which takes place August 7 from 2-4 p.m. at the Mineral Springs Park lagoon. She shares her story with Pekin Daily Times.

Pekin Daily Times Reports:

A person is injured, they are prescribed opioid painkillers and they become addicted. Unable to obtain the pills, they turn to heroin, on which they overdose and die, leaving a grieving family to question how it all could have happened.

This story has been told too often, which is why one mother is doing something to stop it.

Wendy McCready, who lost her son Alan Vaughn to a heroinheroin overdose last year, has taken strides to help educate others of the dangers of addiction and what it could possibly lead to. She has organized the Fight the Fight Addiction Awareness Walk in an effort to do so, which takes place from 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Mineral Springs Park lagoon.

Throughout the afternoon, eight community members and experts will speak about the signs, effects and consequences of heroin addiction, McCready said.

“A lot of people aren’t educated on addiction, just like I wasn’t before my son became an addict,” she said. “I certainly didn’t know he was about to die from it.”

Alan Vaughn’s fatal battle began eight years ago, when he was prescribed opioid painkillers for his back pain. This lead to an addiction and physical dependence on opiates, which eventually landed him in the firm grasp of the cheaper and more easily obtainable heroin. This was something his mother, who described Vaughn as having the biggest heart of anyone she had met, said she would have never seen coming.

“If you think it could never be your child, then you really need to stop thinking like that,” she said. “… We raised our kids right, taught them morals and right from wrong, but addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter where you live or what color you are, everybody is at risk and needs to be educated.

Pekin Police Public Information Officer Mike Eeten — who will speak Sunday — echoed this sentiment, citing opiates’ physically addictive characteristics as a cause.

“When we think of addicts, often we think of a guy living in a tent down by the river or something,” he said. “But with heroin, it’s people that you wouldn’t ever think of as a drug user, or even a drug dealer. We see kids that come from great families that get addicted to heroin.”

McCready believes that if people better understand how to respond then lives will be saved.

“Parents need to know that they need to be ready when their child or loved one is ready,” she said. “Addicts need to get help right when they want it because if they wait just one more day, then they might not want the help anymore”

After the speakers, those in attendance will walk once around the Lagoon in solidarity and support. McCready encourages those taking part to bring signs covered with the pictures of lost loved ones, or displaying messages to the tune of “I hate heroin.”

Eeten, who has investigated several overdoses firsthand, said even those that haven’t been effected directly should consider attending the walk.

“It is never an easy thing to see a young life cut short because of addiction,” he said. “In order to put up a good fight against this, we need the whole community to buy in.”

Eeten said a major step for everyone is the better monitoring of when and how opioid painkillers are being used and where extras are ending up.

Once the lap around the Lagoon is complete, a short “fight song” will be performed, while walkers receive balloons for a balloon release around the lagoon.

Throughout the evening, several local rehab clinics and medical experts will have tables available for added information.

Once such table will aim to promote Narcan, a drug used in emergency situations to treat overdoses of both synthetic and natural opiate overdoses. Those that visit the table will receive training on how to use the drug, as well as a kit to have in their own home in case of emergency.

Immediately following the walk and balloon release, Gateway Pekin will be holding an open house at its Pekin treatment center. Experts and counselors will be on hand to answer any questions regarding drug and alcohol abuse. Light refreshments will be served and attendance at the walk is not mandatory to attend the open house.

McCready hopes that the two events will save other parents the heartache she has gone through.

“My son was one of my best friends,” she said. “… My goal is to keep any other parent from having to bury their own child.”

Are you concerned a loved one may be addicted to opioids? Learn more about prescription drug abuse online at RecoverGateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673) for a confidential consultation.

Pekin Community Unite to ‘Fight the Fight’ Against Addiction with TWO Events

Please join members of the Pekin Community on Sunday, August 7th in the first annual ‘Fight the Fight’ Addiction Awareness Walk at Mineral Springs Park in Pekin, IL. The walk is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and does not require registration. All community members are invited.

iStock_000022659105SmallThis short, scenic walk will be accompanied by speakers on the to pics of recovery, the
disease of addiction, Narcan and harm reduction, a coroner’s report  and more. Speakers include those who have lost their loved ones to addiction, individuals in recovery, Gateway Treatment Centers, Tazewell County Coroner, Pekin Police Department and more. A short “fight song” will  be performed while balloons are released to honor and remember those who lost their battle with addiction.

Gateway Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centers and JM Industrial Supply are the Gold Level sponsors of this walk.

Following the walk, Gateway invites all community members to visit the Pekin treatment center and enjoy light snacks and refreshments from 4:30pm-6:30pm. Gateway’s substance abuse treatment experts will be available to answer questions about drug and alcohol abuse and treatment options available. Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers would like to extend a special thank you to our local Hyvee and Panera Bread for their generous donations towards the open house event immediately following the awareness walk.

The Fight the Fight group was formed in 2016 by a local family who lost their son to a heroin overdose. In an effort to help others struggling with addiction, the family aims to bring awareness to addiction and treatment options.

To learn more about heroin abuse and treatment options visit RecoverGateway.org

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