The visit by the author of “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic” scheduled for Tuesday, April 25, in Pickerington High School North has been canceled.

Tyler’s Light president Wayne Campbell on April 19 said former Los Angeles Times journalist Sam Quinones recently suffered a heart attack while in Atlanta.

The visit had been slated for 6 p.m. at PHS North.

Organizers said the event has not been rescheduled.

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Tyler's Light event: Author to tell of Ohio's role in opiate crisis

The Tyler's Light organization is inviting teens and adults from Pickerington and nearby communities to hear from a nationally-known author who traced the epicenter of the U.S. opiate epidemic to Ohio.

In 2015, former Los Angeles Times journalist Sam Quinones released his book, "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic," which went on to be hailed as an important and informative piece of literature and was included on more than 15 "best book" lists of the year by various newspapers and literary organizations.

The story examined America's growing problem with opiate-related addictions and deaths, pointing to capitalism and overprescribing of prescription pain medications during the 1990s and shined light on the resulting trail of addiction and death in such places as Portsmouth and suburbs across the country.

"The number of Ohioans dead from drug overdoses between 2003 and 2008 was 50 percent higher than the number of U.S. soldiers who died in the entire Iraq War," Quinones wrote.

On April 25 at Pickerington High School North, 7800 Refugee Road, Quinones will discuss the book and the ongoing opiate crisis in America that's led to many young people and adults to turn to heroin.

The program will begin at 6 p.m. with a book signing, followed by the presentation at 7 p.m.

It's being brought to the community by Tyler's Light, a Pickerington-based drug-prevention and -awareness organization.

Tyler's Light President Wayne Campbell formed the organization with the help of friends and neighbors after his son and former football standout, Tyler, died of a heroin overdose in 2011.

Campbell said he is hopeful people from Pickerington, Canal Winchester, Pataskala and Reynoldsburg would take the opportunity to attend the free event.

He said it would be an opportunity for people to learn how opiates became so readily available in Ohio and throughout the country, and how the opiate and heroin crisis continues to grow and threaten the lives of young people and adults in local communities and beyond.

"('Dreamland') is in chronological order showing how the country got into this situation with this epidemic, and that southern Ohio is the epicenter," Campbell said.

"When he ties it all together, he talks to community leaders and adults about the erosion of our communities, the erosion of communications with our youth."

Tyler's Light is billing Quinones' appearance as a discussion teens, parents and those who care about their community can't afford to miss.

The author is expected to share personal stories of addicts, drug traffickers, doctors, law enforcement officials and families affected by opiate addiction, which Campbell said should be treated as a chronic disease.

"Law enforcement cannot fix this, and the federal government cannot fix this," Campbell said. "We, as communities, have to set up our picket fences."

In addition to sharing information from "Dreamland" and his research for the book, Quinones will meet with community leaders prior to his presentation.

The public forum will offer opportunities for attendees to share experiences and ask questions about opiates and addiction.

The Pickerington visit follows stops in Ohio in such places as Columbus, Logan and Zanesville that Quinones already has made, and it's ahead of presentations he's planned in Licking County, Circleville and Cincinnati.

"You can't be a bystander because you live in the suburbs and read about these things in the paper and just say, 'It won't happen to me,'" Campbell said. "Yes it can.

"Our communities, our parents, our school systems, we have to be engaged in this discussion."

For more information about Tyler's Light and the Quinones presentation, go online to tylerslight.com.

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate