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 Beachwood and surrounding communities will take place on Thursday, February 27 at 7 PM at the Beachwood Public Library (25501 Shaker Boulevard).
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 U.S. District Attorney Steven Dettelbach, defense attorney Michael Goldberg, Deborah Naiman of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office Major Drug Trial Unit, Cleveland Clinic treatment specialist Dr. Jason Jerry, County Councilwoman Sunny Simon and Dr. Stephen Sroka from the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University.
Beachwood High School graduate Aaron Marks will also discuss his battle with heroin addiction. Marks became addicted to pain killers during high school and began using heroin in college. He has been clean and sober for ten years.
“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 Beachwood residents – especially parents and students – are encouraged to attend.
Astrab has held previous forums in Solon, Westlake, Broadview Heights, Parma, Strongsville, Bay Village and the City Club of Cleveland. Future forums will take place in North Olmsted, Mayfield, Independence, Garfield Heights, Maple Heights and Brooklyn.
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 “Beachwood: Heroin in the Suburbs.”