Forum speaker is expert on area drug problems

The keynote speaker, a former Minnesota drug abuse strategy officer, is no stranger to an increasing trend

The area drug program scheduled for the Gillespie Center in Mound on Nov. 1 will feature many knowledgeable speakers hoping to spread knowledge about an increasing heroin epidemic.

Carol Falkowski
Carol Falkowski

Perhaps the most experienced in area drug abuse is keynote speaker Carol Falkowski, a former drug abuse strategy officer from the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Falkowski said opiate abuse is as worst as she has ever seen in the area.

“Having monitored drug abuse in the Twin Cities, we have an emerging heroin problem,” she said. “For the first time ever, the number of people seeking treatment for opiates is only second to the number of people seeking treatment for alcohol.”

The western Lake Minnetonka area is one of many places in the state that has recently received attention in the news for an increasing amount of heroin use. This problem prompted the Nov. 1 program titled “Heroin: Our Community.”

Besides Falkowski, other speakers will be available for a question and answer opportunity for those in attendance to learn about the impact of drug abuse. These speakers include local police officers, various members of local government, staff members from two local school districts and staff members of local addiction programs.

Falkowski, who also authored a reference book about drug abuse titled “Dangerous Drugs: An Easy-To-Use Reference for Parents and Professionals,” said she hopes the Nov. 1 program will be the first step to addressing a heroin problem in the west lakes area.

“This community forum is the opportunity to learn about and hopefully begin the dialogue that would help address the problem,” she said.

The Gillespie Center is the location that “Heroin: Our Community” will be taking place on Nov. 1. The forum is planned to address the increasing presence of drugs in the area. (Photo by Blaze Fugina)
The Gillespie Center is the location that “Heroin: Our Community” will be taking place on Nov. 1. The forum is planned to address the increasing presence of drugs in the area. (Photo by Blaze Fugina)

A number of area cities, associations and school districts are sponsoring the program. Sponsors include Mound, Orono, Spring Park, the Westonka School District, the Orono School District and the Mound Crime Prevention Association.

When announcing Mound’s sponsorship of the program, Mayor Mark Hanus said drug abuse is something affecting many residents in the area.

“This is really about learning about how close it is to us,” he said. “And when I say close, I mean physically as well as every other way you can measure that word.”

Falkowski said many parents look at their own childhood when determining what kind of drugs could be exposed to their children. This could be a mistake in a changing drug environment.

“This is a very new world, and choices happen at a young age and involve drugs that weren’t otherwise as affordable and available as they now are,” she said.
Another issue Falkowski said is reluctance by parents to accept a drug problem that could affect their children.

“Many parents are blinded by love, and don’t think drug abuse could happen in their family,” she said. “But it can and it does.”

Some of the youth drug abuse issues the presentation will cover includes which drugs are being abused, how parents can tell if their child is using, what can be done to lessen abuse and what trends are being seen locally.

“We hope no questions go unanswered,” said Falkowski.

“Heroin: Our Community” will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Gillespie Center in Mound. The Gillespie Center is located at 2590 Commerce Blvd. in Mound.