October 19, 2018
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Northeast Signature Program Brings Back The Haunted House Of Addictions

Zach Sparks
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September 18, 2018

Death keeps no calendar, but members of the Pasadena community might want to mark October 13 on their schedules. From 5:00pm to 7:00pm, during the same time as the trunk-or-treat, the Northeast Human Performance Signature Program will host its Haunted House of Addictions for the second time, educating the public about the perils of drug use.

Inside the “house,” visitors will see student actors portraying various scenes. Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams will preside over a mock court and one victim will emerge from a casket.

This year’s House of Addictions will also include headsets used to share stories, a concept inspired by the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why.”

“There are different scenes, either how people have lost loved ones or how they are in long-term recovery,” said Brandi Dorsey, Signature Program facilitator. “Some [scenes] are the same as last year, but they are all educational opportunities.”

Education has become an essential tool in the fight against addiction, a growing problem in Anne Arundel County. From January 1 to September 4, Anne Arundel County had 126 opioid deaths, a 34 percent increase from this point in 2017, according to the Anne Arundel County Police Department.

The Northeast Signature’s House of Addictions is one more piece of that education, one more innovative way that citizens are combating the crisis. And it’s a joint effort. “It’s my framework, but the students are the driving force,” Dorsey said.

Students are currently conducting research and rehearsing speaking lines. Prior to October 13, students will attend a guest speaker series at Northeast to learn even more about the epidemic. Speakers include Adams, Lieutenant Steve Thomas from Anne Arundel Crisis Response and Denise Williams, who has lost two sons to the opioid epidemic.

Ryan Williams died in January 2015, and his twin, Matt Williams, was so devastated by the loss that he intentionally overdosed in February 2018.

“Matt got into alcohol when he was 14,” Denise said. “He was self-medicating and I had no idea. He was a good kid, but he carried depression. When he lost his twin brother, it escalated.”

Denise hopes her story will resonate with the Northeast community as it did last year. “It had an overwhelming response,” Denise said of the Haunted House of Addictions. “The impact of seeing a coffin or seeing an urn with ashes, it’s a reality check.”

Logan Farmer is participating in the exhibit for the second time.

“I learned about real issues our community is facing,” Farmer said. “I love the Haunted House of Addictions because I felt as though we were creating awareness to parents and students. I saw many students leave crying and they said it was extremely powerful.”

The House of Addictions is roughly a 25-minute experience, Dorsey said. Attendees can pick up a ticket between 4:30pm and 5:30pm to guarantee their time slot. Those who do not secure a time slot can still enter the House of Addictions, but they may face a long wait time.

Dorsey also stressed that the House of Addictions is open only to people ages 12 and over.

“This is not a spooky haunted house,” Dorsey said. “This is a prevention method to bring our community together, and it’s an educational opportunity put on by the Signature Program.

“It’s not in a video, it’s not in a textbook, it’s not online,” Dorsey added. “It’s real-world examples.”


Vendors Spots Open For Trunk-Or-Treat

Northeast is still accepting vendors for the trunk-or-treat on October 13 from 5:00pm to 8:00pm. The cost is $50.

The trunk-or-treat is an opportunity for kids to collect Halloween candy while area businesses showcase their services.

“They can design a trunk, make it interactive and sell their products out of the back,” Dorsey said.

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