Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Astrab has seen too many heroin cases in his courtroom. “Make no mistake, it’s an epidemic,” Astrab said. “I can do what I can as a judge from the bench, but by the time a user gets to my courtroom, it’s often too late. As a community, we need to do more to prevent people from using heroin in the first place.”
During the 2013-14 school year, Astrab will host a series of “Heroin in the Suburbs” forums. A town hall for Mayfield and surrounding communities will take place on Wednesday, March 12 at 7 PM at the Mayfield Public Library (500 SOM Center Road).
Astrab’s goal is to help raise awareness of the heroin epidemic, and inform parents how to keep their families safe.
“This is an epidemic. For anyone to suggest otherwise,” Astrab said, “is naive.”
According to the medical examiner, heroin killed approximately 200 people in Cuyahoga County in 2013. The majority of those deaths were in the suburbs. Heroin took more lives in 2013 than homicides or car accidents.
Scheduled expert panelists include Dr. Joan Papp from Project DAWN, Jennifer Tulli from Recovery Resources, Assistant County Prosecutor Deborah Naiman, Cleveland Clinic treatment specialist Dr. Jason Jerry and Dr. Stephen Sroka from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
In addition, Cindy Koumoutzis from “The Addict’s Mom” will participate in the forum. Cindy is featured in the county prosecutor’s “Let’s Face It” educational campaign about the heroin epidemic.
“Everyone involved in these forums has one goal – prevent at least one person from being hurt by heroin,” Astrab said. “If we can do that, this effort will absolutely be worth it.”
All Mayfield residents – especially parents and students – are encouraged to attend.
Astrab has held previous forums in Solon, Westlake, Broadview Heights, Parma, Strongsville, Bay Village, Beachwood, North Olmsted and the City Club of Cleveland. Future forums will take place in Independence, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights, Brooklyn and East Cleveland.
At a recent forum, Dr. Sroka said everyone has the power to make a difference. “Denial is huge. You can’t say ‘It’s not in my community’ anymore. You should be prepared. There’s not a person here this can’t happen to.”
For more information, follow Judge Astrab on Twitter @judgeastrab. To RSVP to attend the forum on Facebook, search for “Mayfield: Heroin in the Suburbs.”