CHESTERFIELD, MO - The Chesterfield Police Department hosted an ‘Opioid Summit’ Wednesday evening to provide the community with crucial information and resources in an effort to combat the opioid epidemic.
Tim Engelmeyer, Prosecuting Attorney for the City of Chesterfield, says he sees the result of opioid addiction in court every week calling it "a massive problem." He says it not only affects the user but everyone they come in contact with.
Several community sponsors set up display tables in the lobby of Chesterfield City Hall where visitors could stop by, ask questions and collect information.
Ellis and Patti Fitzwalter stood near a table for their organization H.E.A.L.: Stop Heroin.
"H.E.A.L stands for Heroin Education and Awareness League," said Ellis. "We spread awareness about the heroin and opioid epidemic. We do that by sponsoring awareness walks, setting up tables at events like this, and speaking and sharing our story."
Their story began in 2014 when Patti said they lost their son to an accidental heroin overdose. They founded H.E.A.L.: Stop Heroin last year in his honor to help educate other families about the warning signs they say they missed.
"If we had known everything then that we know now, we might still have him with us," said Patti.
In addition to presentations, speakers, and a variety of resources, there was an interactive exhibit called "Hidden In Plain Sight" where parents were encouraged to "snoop" through a mock bedroom to see if they could find drugs and paraphernalia.
Kelly Prunty, Executive Director of Addiction Is Real, gave Fox 2 a tour of the exhibit where there were 70 instances of hidden drugs or paraphernalia. She showed what appeared to be a Coke can, but the top could be twisted off revealing a hidden compartment inside.
Prunty says it is more important than ever for parents to talk with their children about drugs and peer pressure.
"Kids have access to so much information that I as a teenager didn't have," said Prunty. "Now, with the internet and social media, they can go a million places to get the answers to their questions."
Prunty says a sudden drop in grades, a change in sleep patterns, or a change in friends may be a sign parents need to look a little deeper into their child's life and room.