‘Sometimes You Never Sleep It Off’

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

By Nicole Marie Wieland

Only a handful of students attended DCCC’s Marple Campus workshop “Sometimes You Never Sleep It Off” on Feb. 18. Presented by N.O.P.E. (Narcotics Overdose Prevention Education) Task Force.

The event featured five individuals who educated students on the

dangers of drugs, both illegal and prescription.

According to the brochure, their mission is “reaching communities through prevention, education, and support.”

Tricha Stouch told a personal story of her daughter who died from a drug overdose. Mike Markunas told a story of a baby who died due to her mother taking drugs.

The workshop began with Dana Rachko introducing the N.O.P.E. Task Force members and explaining their mission. She then highlighted some stories of people who have died of drug


Trisha Stouch told the story of her daughter Pamela, 19, who died in her sleep on March 27, 2010, after using heroin one night. Stouch read an excerpt from Pamela’s journal titled, “Why I Use.”

“Pain is nature’s way of telling you to sit down and get better,” Stouch said,” but the world tells you that you can’t do that. You have to get right back up.”

Then, Nether Providence police officer, Mike Markunas, who has been in law enforcement for 25 years, explained he had lost three friends to DUI crashes.

“I [got involved in N.O.P.E.] because of Pamela’s story, and every parent’s,” He said. “It strengthens my resolve to stop this. I do it because I’m a father.”

He told the story of a nine-month-old baby girl who died from breastfeeding. Her mother was taking methadone while nursing her.

“I carried that baby girl out of the house,” Markunas said. “I will never forget that day. I have a list of every person’s name whose parent I had to wake up.”

Markunas then explained what the “death rattle” is: it is the sound your body makes when it is slowly dying, and it is a sign that people often overlook because they think the person is

just in a deep sleep and is snoring, but that is not the case. When they wake up in the morning to check on the person, it is too late. Markunas then played a frantic 911 call of a

mother whose son died from a drug overdose at 17.

“Life is about choices, and your choices are not always about you,” he explained.

The next person to speak was Trish Caldwell from Key Recovery, an outpatient services center.

“In the last three years, we have seen more overdose deaths than in 20 years combined,” said Caldwell.

She also showed a slideshow showing drug statistics and facts.

According to Caldwell, Delaware County is one of the worst drug-trafficking areas of the nation, and college students are being targeted the most.

She explained how important it is to educate one’s self on the dangers of not only illegal drugs, but also of prescription drugs that are in everyone’s medicine cabinets, such as leftover Percocet from a sports injury.

As the workshop drew to a close, Caldwell emphasized, “We are a prescription drug nation. Make mindful decisions with knowledge rather than impulsivity.”

Rose Kurtz, a counselor for DCCC who worked for the ACT 101 program, said she wishes that more students attended the event because “the statistics were really powerful.”

Rosemont College student Jenna Kaiser, 21, an intern for the NOPE Task Force, agrees. She wishes students knew that “One time can really do it; one time can kill you.”

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