CENTREVILLE — With QAC Goes Purple approaching, the county’s Drug Free Coalition is preparing to unveil the latest iteration of the haunted crack house — now the haunted trap house, portraying the spiral of addiction for its 30th anniversary.
During the Wednesday, July 31, meeting with the steering council and members of the organization, plans were being discussed, with actors in the scenes, and individual committees were being formed to make this year another success.
Eric Johnson, emergency management planner for the Special Ops Division of the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services, said the long history of community involvement was in response to an opioid epidemic that involves a number of resources to stop it.
“We have gone from telling a story that is absolutely relevant to the community to 30 years of solid research on addiction,” Johnson said. “If you’re going to solve a problem, you have know the statistics around that. We have those models, and we’re not going to be (unrealistic). That’s why we have an artistic director that put these elements in there.”
As in past years, the proposed story line will center on an individual who is exposed to opioids, begins a dangerous addiction and soon must be saved from an overdose by area paramedics. Then they go through the legal system and recovery amid the struggle to stay sober.
The tentative date to open the haunted trap house is Tuesday, Oct. 22, with previews to be offered to county officials and media.
The Kennard African American Cultural Heritage Center, at 410 Little Kidwell Ave. in Centreville, will host the event.
Mary James, a member of the Queen Anne’s County Drug-Free Coalition, said the script and scenes depicted had to be real and as visceral as they safely and responsibly could be to get the full impact.
With a number of actors from a broad age range eager to discuss the details, James outlined the vital scenes of the story, such as the first time the lead character tries opioids amid friends and a courtroom where they are arraigned on drug possession charges. It even included the character’s home, where visitors see what families experience when a loved one deals with addiction.
“I was asked to write a script with a series of scenes approximately three minutes long,” James said. “The story starts out on a bus with a drug dealer and young man, and they arrive at a location where they distribute drugs leading to an overdose. We will have an EMT arrive, and then we see what happens when they are sentenced.”
Other committees included stage crew, tour guides, public relations and outside activities to coincide with the haunted trap house.
Johnson said an executive steering team of county agency and community leaders was formed in January to chart a course for the project and conduct a community profile assessment on which to develop a script reflecting the drug challenges facing the county’s diverse community.
Maggie Thomas, an expert on addiction treatment for the Queen Anne’s County Health Department, serves as co-director with Johnson.
“The opioid epidemic is devastating to our community. We have too many lethal and non-lethal overdoses in Queen Anne’s County each year,” Thomas said. “With this in mind, our executive steering team changed the name to ‘Haunted Trap House,’ after much discussion and with input from the target population — middle and high school-aged students and young adults.”
To date, the haunted trap house concept has taken hold across the country, with locations as far away as Texas using them to show the reality of addiction.