High school student organizes town hall to discuss heroin epidemic

- Heroin and painkillers were the topic of discussion at a Cherokee County high school Thursday evening, but lawmakers did not lead the meeting, a teenager did.

Delana Crook, 18, appears wise beyond her years. She spent most of her years at Etowah High School coping with her brother’s heroin addiction.

“My brother would not show up at times and I did not really know if he was alive or dead, so it was hard,” said Delana Crook.

Crook said her brother, Jay, overdosed and nearly died about two years ago. Crook helped save his life and is now hoping to help others.

For her senior class project Crook organized a town hall meeting, partnering up with Michelle Neese and the Keely Foundation, law enforcement officers and other leaders to educate the community on the dangers of heroin.

“You are not really getting what you think you are getting and that is how the problem starts and then it leads to other things,” said Crook.

According to the Cherokee County deputy coroner, 81 people died in the county just last year from heroin overdoses and he believes that number is probably higher because heroin does not always show up in the toxicology.

“I see death every day and it’s so sad that these young people, they just don’t seem to realize what they are doing,” said Thomas Pinyan, the Cherokee County Deputy Coroner.

Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said the county is working to get to the source of the problem.

“Enhance our multi-jurisdictional narcotics squad, today alone we made two arrests for trafficking heroin here in the county,” said Sheriff Frank Reynolds.  “With the city police and the sheriff’s office and the GBI, we are all coming together to fight this addiction."

Crook said her brother moved to Chicago and has been sober for about two years. She had this message for parents.

“Don’t be closed to like the idea of your son or loved one or your daughter being a drug addict because if you accept the problem you can help them, if you deny, deny, deny, it might be too late and you might have to bury someone,” said Crook.

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