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 already 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,” said Johnson. “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 that gets initial exposure to opioids, begins a dangerous addiction and soon must be saved from an overdose by area paramedics. They go through the legal system and recovery amid the struggle to stay sober.
The tentative date to open the haunted trap house was Tuesday, Oct. 22, with previews being offered to county officials and media.
Hosting the event will be the Kennard African American Cultural Heritage Center at 410 Little Kidwell Ave. in Centreville.
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 could safely and responsibly be to get the full impact.
With a number of actors from across 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 or 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,” said James. “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.
According Johnson, an executive steering team of county agency and community leaders was formed in January 2019 to chart a course for the project and to 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 Department of Health, 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,” said Thomas. “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 successfully taken hold across the country with locations as far as Texas using them to show the reality of addiction.