Chris Schildt

Chris Schildt

A special community performance of “An Introduction to the Enemy” will put addiction center stage as Frederick County remains in the grips of a national heroin epidemic.

Ed and Karen Schildt, of Thurmont, are sponsoring the event as part of their public outreach, since losing their son to a heroin overdose in June 2016. The 30-minute show will be in the Catoctin High School auditorium on April 12 at 7 p.m.

“An Introduction to the Enemy” — produced by Shannon Garrett — has been performed in treatment facilities for several years, and will now be shown in the community. The performance differs from past events hosted in Frederick County that have focused on personal stories of addiction and recovery, Ed Schildt said.

“Our purpose is to understand more and more what [addiction] is,” Ed Schildt said.

The Schildts know Garrett through their support group: CHRIS (Caring, Healing, Recovery Is Support) for Family Support in Recovery. The Schildts host a support group for families with addicts and a bereavement group at the Austin Addiction and Mental Health Center in Frederick.

This will be their first time seeing the show performed live.

Their son, Chris, went back and forth between addiction and treatment. He died on June 30, 2016, at age 25, the second time he overdosed.

“The addict, when they’re in active addiction, they don’t realize the whole family is going through that,” Karen Schildt said.

Chris attended Catoctin High School, where he played football and baseball and wrestled. He dislocated and fractured his elbow wrestling and was prescribed prescription painkillers before graduating in 2009. Ed Schildt believes this first introduction was the trigger for Chris’ later abuse of opioids.

During his sophomore or junior year at Shepherd University, Chris became addicted to opioids. He first bought prescription drugs, and turned to heroin when the pills became too expensive. Ed and Karen Schildt became suspicious that Chris was using drugs when he began asking for money and missing work and family events.

The Schildts had an intervention in 2012 or 2013, and Chris agreed to do an outpatient detox treatment and outpatient therapy, Ed Schildt said.

Chris relapsed and tried a round of detox and 30 days of inpatient treatment in Bel Air, Maryland. He stayed sober for roughly six months before relapsing again.

“It’s hard to understand it until you’re thrown in it,” Ed Schildt said.

After another six months of sobriety, Chris overdosed for the first time. He tried living in a sober living group home, and eventually moved to an apartment with friends and his sponsor.

Chris sent his mom a photo of the sunrise each morning, but one day there was no photo. Karen Schildt knew something was wrong.

Ed and Karen Schildt had spoken to Chris at 9:30 p.m. the night before, and his last three words were, “I love you.”

Karen Schildt’s gut told her something was wrong. She found Chris unconscious at his apartment, and he could not be revived. The death certificate said he died of an overdose of heroin and fentanyl, Ed Schildt said.

Now, the Schildts are trying to bring a new immersive experience to the county that puts a face and body to addiction. Both have heard the audio of the show and that alone was stirring, Ed Schildt said.

Their goal is to show that addiction is a disease and not a weakness.

Ed Schildt has made it his mission to help addicts, addicts families and educate others do the same, he said. Education comes in knowing the signs and where to go for help.

Ed and Karen Schildt didn’t seek help while Chris was in the throes of his addiction and consider themselves lucky to have had a strong household and marriage. They want to help families facing the same struggle.

Additional resources will be available for families and addicts at the event on April 12, including Frederick County Workforce Services, Mackenzie’s Light Bereavement and Drug Addiction Education Program, Up and Out Foundation, and Frederick County Health Department, Karen Schildt said.

The performance will be at Catoctin High School, but it is not specifically targeting high school-aged students. Ed Schildt said he hoped the performance would be a cautionary message to people before they try opioids and other addictive substances.

“That generation of 18- to 30-year-olds are the ones in the cross hairs of this,” Ed Schildt said.

The vision is for the event to involve the entire community in preventing future addictions. Families of addicts, interested community members and addicts are all welcome to attend. The performance is not recommended for children younger than 13.

“My hope, my prayer, is it’s all encompassing,” Ed Schildt said.

Follow Samantha Hogan on Twitter: @SAHogan.

Samantha Hogan is the state house, environment, agriculture and energy reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(10) comments

lives4running

"Heroin: Cape Cod, USA." Could be Frederick County.

tmsherald

I was present the night Chris was injured in wrestling.To this day it stands out as one of the most ugly and gruesome injuries I have witnessed in my over 40 years of athletic involvement.Chris was in excruciating pain.My point is that painkillers have a place in treatment.The person taking them and those around him have to be hypervigilant of the possible consequences.The extent of the negative side effects was not apparent until fairly recently.Please understand that any one affected by this tragic addiction would do anything to be relieved of its curse.It is just not that easy.The Schilds are a wonderful family.I applaud their efforts and wish them piece of mind.

tpatterson

I work in mental health so encourage everyone to attend this . I live in Georgia and wish so that I could be there. I also encourage everyone to attend as this is my families personal story. Words can never express the loss we have experienced in losing Chris. He was a son, a brother, a father. This is the face of addiction and we all need to be aware as it can touch us all, anytime, any place. Incredibly proud of my brother and sister in law as it is their mission to make a difference. This also will help them heal. If you have not made plans to attend, do so RIGHT NOW!

KellyAlzan

You look at that picture of such a good looking guy and it's hard to imagine that he was addicted to such a horrible drug. The guy next door. Laws need tightened against anyone dealing opioids, automatic life in prision with no parole if convicted.

sevenstones1000

How about giving some help to people who are addicted, rather than just locking more people up?

KellyAlzan

Please read my comment again.

threecents

Kelly, Why would anyone want to read your comment again? Can you not accept that people - often most informed people - just disagree with you?

shiftless88

Of course, when they instead look like a "thug" then no one cares about helping and only want to lock them up. It's amazing how sympathy and empathy have been lacking so long regarding addiction and addicts.

rsaunders

I am sorry for your loss. I knew your family and your son as a young child all the way through school. The introduction to pain meds IS a gateway for many of these addictions to start. Oral surgeons, dentists are prescribing them for 3rd molars to be extracted. YES additionally the many injuries young adults incur while in sports accidents or other mishaps these are also introduced. PLEASE know and share with everyone that when these are prescribed to our youth for such relief it should be kept with the parent and only filled in dire necessity. The dental industry is under scrutiny and new awareness of this as possibly being a contributor to this. It is obvious that you want to educate & help bring change PLEASE add to the list for discouraging dispensing opioids for dental & sports industry.

sevenstones1000

What a beautiful young man. My heart breaks for his family and friends. I'm so sorry.

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