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Heroin claims lives in Topton; public meeting planned to address growing problem

By Jennifer Joas, Reporter, JJoas@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 25 2014 04:34:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 26 2014 01:18:11 PM CDT

A powerful drug is being blamed for claiming the lives of three people in Topton.

TOPTON, Pa. -

Heroin is a drug that is claiming lives in Topton. 

Pa. Sen. Judy Schwank, along with community members, wants to put a stop to it.

"Folks do not believe that their kids, their grandchildren can be involved in something like this," said Schwank, D-Berks Co.

But those stories do exist. Amanda MacBride was involved with someone who abused heroin, and she said it can be devastating.

"It is awful. It really is. It is breaking people's hearts and ruining a lot of lives," said MacBride, of nearby Mertztown. 

Others in the community said the drug problem has progressively gotten worse over the years.

"We helped make a nice park in the middle of town years ago. We ripped out the old one, put in a new one, and now parents are scared to take their children there," said Dan Meitzler, of Topton.

That is why Schwank is meeting with borough officials, school officials and law enforcement Tuesday night to discuss what can be done.

She said the abuse starts with prescription drugs, sitting in your medicine cabinet, and later escalates to heroin abuse. And Schwank said over the last month, two people in the Topton area have overdosed and died.

"I want them to be aware of the symptoms and to understand when they are looking at their child, grandchild or niece or nephew, that their behavior is different. There might be a problem there," said Schwank.

Brandywine Heights Area School District is also planning to host a public meeting to educate community members on the dangers of heroin and what warning signs parents and grandparents should be looking out for.

"I think it is a good idea. A lot of people do not know what the issues are around here and there are no cops in the area to let people know what is really going on," said MacBride.

Topton does not have its own police force and relies on state police. People we spoke with said more police presence may also help solve the problem.

The public meeting will be next Tuesday, April 1, at 6:30 p.m. at Brandywine Heights Area Middle School. The district superintendent asks that you RSVP on its website so he knows how many people to expect.