Editorial: Drug culture video is important watching for suburbs

  • Ethan Deardorff, of Vernon Hills, based his video "Lake County, IL, Subversive Suburbia" on the suburban drug culture.

      Ethan Deardorff, of Vernon Hills, based his video "Lake County, IL, Subversive Suburbia" on the suburban drug culture. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted5/9/2017 5:14 PM

Ethan Deardorff is 20. He's been sober for three years.

Think about that. He was in need of help at age 17. And he knows so many others who were or still are in need of help. And others who struggled even after getting help.


One such person was Danielle Pfeiffer, a friend's girlfriend Deardorff met at a 12-step program.

"We really clicked. She got sober but had a difficult time," he said. Danielle eventually killed herself.

Deardorff, of Vernon Hills, dedicated a 15-minute documentary on drug use in Lake County to Danielle. It's must-see viewing -- and not easy to watch -- for every teen, parent and community member who is or should be concerned about drug use in the suburbs.

"I'm just trying to spread awareness. That's the end game," Deardorff said of his YouTube video, "Lake County, IL, Subversive Suburbia." He made it for a College of Lake County video editing class but knew that it needed a wider audience than his class.

The disclaimer on the video is not overdone: "WARNING: This video contains coarse language, drug use and violence. Viewer discretion is advised." Also advised: Watch the video and talk about what it shows. And find out where to get help, for yourself, a friend or a loved one.

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"It's certainly something that isn't new but is growing in concern as time goes by," Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther told reporter Mick Zawislak in our story about the film. "Awareness is just one component of the bigger picture."

Guenther is co-founder of A Way Out, a 1-year-old program designed to fast-track users to substance abuse programs and services while keeping them out of the criminal justice system.

It's a concrete way Lake County is dealing with this issue. It's part of the Lake County Opioid Initiative, a multigroup, multiagency effort to combat the rise in heroin and opioid deaths. One statistic that jumps out on their website -- opiodinitiatve.org -- is the 130 people saved through 2016 since Naloxone, which reverses the effect of an opioid, was adopted countywide by first responders in 2014.

"We know this issue knows no demographic or geographic boundary," Guenther said.

All of this shouldn't be a surprise to suburban residents, but if you are not paying attention to what law enforcement, schools and county officials are saying through many different forms of communication, it could be.

And that's what Deardorff is seeking to change. He reached one Libertyville resident, Joe Sweeney, who shared the video on Facebook along with this message that should resonate in towns all across the suburban landscape.

"Wake up Mayberry ... this is your backyard, Libertyville. You see it on TV, and here it is on our Main Street," Sweeney said.

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