Most haunted houses depict fictional terrors, but Northeast High School hosts an event showcasing the true-life horror of addiction.

The 2018 Haunted House of Addictions, now in its second year, is hosted by the high school’s Signature Program with several community business partnerships. 

The event teaches parents and teenagers how to spot the telltale signs of drug use in their family and friends, while vividly demonstrating the consequences of using. 

Brandi Dorsey, the facilitator for Northeast High’s Human Performance Signature Program, coordinates the event with the help of community and business partners. However, she says it’s the students who have embraced this unique opportunity to bring awareness to the community about the dangers of drugs and the devastation that addiction brings. 

“Last year as part of the signature program the students were community mapping,” Dorsey says. “They looked at the data of Pasadena relating to the opioid crisis and thought, ‘What is something we can provide for the community to be proactive?’ and we came up with the Haunted House of Addictions. It is an educational opportunity for parents and students to learn about the reality of addiction.”

As of September 7, 2018 the Anne Arundel County Health Department reports that since January 1, there have been 758 opioid related overdoses in the county, 126 of which were fatal. It is important to note that the numbers are most likely much higher since not all overdoses are reported. Pasadena, the home to Northeast High School, has a higher than average rate of opioid overdose compared to many other areas of the county. 

As visitors pass through the haunted house, the opioid crisis plays out in five scenes portrayed by student actors. You also visit a drug house and a teen addict’s bedroom to learn how easily drugs can be hidden in plain sight, and which items you can find in a typical middle class suburban home—such as white vinegar and Q-tips—that are used by addicts. A funeral scene, complete with a student actor in the coffin, depicts the deadly consequences of addiction. State’s Attorney Wes Adams participates in a mock court setting where a student actor is given the choice of jail or a treatment program. And a mother from the Pasadena community shares the heart rending true story of how she lost not one, but two sons to overdose.

Logan Farmer, a senior at the high school, is one of 30 Northeast students who participated in the program last year. He helped plan the event and portrayed an addict in one of the scenes. “I learned about real issues our community is facing,” he says. “I love the Haunted House of Addictions because I felt as though we were creating awareness to parents and students.”

Farmer’s role as an addict gave him a front row seat to the impact of the evening, “I saw many students leave crying and they said it was extremely powerful. I am really looking forward to this year’s event!”

The Haunted House of Addictions takes place on October 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. It is recommended that you arrive early; last year approximately 100 people were turned away. Patrons can start to line up at 4:30 p.m., and the tour lasts approximately 25 minutes. In addition to the tour, several resources providing information on treatment programs and recovery will be on site.

Due to the intense nature of the event, no one under 12 will be admitted, even with a parent.

Coinciding with the Haunted House of Addictions is the Northeast Trunk or Treat event. This is the third year for the Trunk or Treat and last year over 3,000 people attended. All ages are welcome to attend. There will be over 100 student organizations and businesses from the community who will be giving out goodies, as well as several food trucks.

Northeast High School is located at 1121 Duvall Highway in Pasadena. For more information about the event contact Brandi Dorsey at [email protected].