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Somerset to host drug abuse conversation

The St. Croix County Substance Abuse Coalition and the Somerset School District will host a community forum titled “What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet?” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 3, at Somerset High School about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and how it’s a leading cause of heroin use.

“This is a community issue,” said Somerset middle and high school health instructor Sarah Colling. “We just want everyone to be aware. Parents don’t realize that they may be their child’s best drug supplier.”

According to Colling, most people don’t start out using heroin. Rather, they become hooked on prescription medications that have been prescribed by a doctor or that are found in ordinary medicine cabinets in the average home.

“Often for something as common as wisdom teeth surgery, kids may be prescribed something like Vicodin,” Colling said. “Sometimes they can become addicted.”

Colling said those addicted to prescription medications may switch to heroin use because heroin is four to five times cheaper than prescription medications.

“Many people are just completely unaware that heroin use usually doesn’t start with heroin,” Colling said. “Heroin is cheaper than narcotics, which are very expensive.”

Speakers at the forum will include Karen Hale (the mother of a girl who died from a heroin overdose), Sara Sedahl (an AODA counselor with St. Croix County Health & Human Services), Jackie Brenizer (from SCCHHS who will discuss treatment options) and Brian Bartlett (from Programs for Change in Hudson, who will discuss the most commonly abused substances and the warning signs of use and dependence).

Forum attendees will be able to ask questions. The purpose of the forum is to give community members, parents especially, information about preventing drug abuse, the warning signs of dependence and use, the treatment options available in St. Croix County and the dangers of using narcotics to kill pain after routine procedures.

“There have been drug overdoses all over this county, and yes, in Somerset,” Colling said. “When toxicology comes back on some of them the cause is prescription drug overdose.”

Colling urges people to talk with doctors about other ways to treat pain besides narcotics.

“There are strong anti-inflammatories, like Ibuprofen, that can be used in place of narcotics,” Colling said. “It’s about being mindful of the amounts and telling doctors when you’re not comfortable using a narcotic.”

The St. Croix Substance Abuse Coalition is a collaboration of school personnel, Hudson Hospitals, Programs for Change, law enforcement, St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Ed Vlack, the St. Croix County Medical Examiner, educators and St. Croix County Health & Human Services personnel.

Anyone who wishes to safely dispose of prescription drugs can bring it to the Somerset or New Richmond police departments.

For more information contact Colling at or visit the coalition’s Facebook page at

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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