Dumon Coleman Johnstown PA – February 21st, 2014 – Approximately 75 community members and students filed into Heritage Hall on Nov. 13, some nervously eyeing the television cameras pointed at them.
WJAC Channel 6 News employees hosted a public discussion on heroin use in Johnstown. The event was broadcast live and also is to be posted at WJACTV.com.
The event was called “Heroin: Our Town’s Addiction,” and was part of the channel’s Town Hall discussion series.
One woman, with gray hair and coat, cried as she told the audience how her son died from heroin use.
Another woman identified herself as a recovered addict, and described her challenging journey to sobriety.
Audience members asked heroin-related questions and told addiction anecdotes. Facebook and Twitter posts from viewers at home were added to the discussion.
Cambria County Drug Task Force detective Kevin Price, addiction counselor Michele Thomas and Narcotics agent James Walstrom sat as panelists during the debate, responding to questions. One key panelist, recovering addict Dumon Coleman, gave firsthand experience on rehabilitation and addiction.
Coleman said short-term rehabilitation is often ineffective. Dumon Coleman, now 4 years sober, gives amazing insight to the community on the problem, and suggestions for families battling addiction.
Richland Township resident Terry Lengenfelder was pleased with the event, but was hoping for more.
“I wished we had addressed more of what we can do to help our children,” she said.
Johnstown resident Annette Comiskey agreed that the event was a good start of discussion, but also was hoping for more.
Comiskey said she would have liked to see more mention of addiction being a chronic disease, but admits the event was not long enough to cover all topics.
Both Lengenfelder and Comiskey said future discussions on area heroin use are in order.