Lisa Stone is a human rights activist based out of Buffalo Grove, Illinois. One issue that Lisa cares deeply about is preventing heroin abuse. Lisa experienced the devastating effects of heroin abuse when a close family member’s life was derailed entirely because of it. It was then when she realized how dangerous the drug truly is.

Years later, Lisa Stone started to see how harshly her community was getting hit by the opioid crisis. When Lisa was asked to run for local office in 2008, she took the opportunity to use her platform to address the opioid epidemic and advocate for both heroin reform and awareness. 

From 2009 to 2010, Lisa Stone served on the Buffalo Grove of Trustees. During this time, Lisa worked relentlessly to raise awareness of heroin abuse but was faced with opposition when talking about the issue in public. However, Lisa knew that change could not happen without an open dialogue. During her time in office, Lisa was a pioneer in the Buffalo Grove community as she introduced specific drug forums. Although Lisa Stone no longer serves in public office, she still works to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic by talking to her friends, family, and community members. 

In addition to heroin abuse prevention, Lisa Stone is passionate about two other important issues; government transparency and water safety. Her time spent serving in public office made Lisa realize the importance of transparency. Transparency helps to hold elected officials accountable while promoting a democratic society. Although transparency is necessary in government, Lisa found that it is often lacking. With that being said, Lisa encourages her community to demand transparency and remain aware of their leaders. 

To tackle water safety in her community, Lisa Stone helped create the Lake County-Vernon Township Coalition for Safe Drinking Water in 2010. While she served as a Trustee, Lisa learned from a community member about noxious fumes related to water. After learning about the water conditions, Lisa spoke out as a member of the coalition and encouraged public officials to take action. However, Lisa Stone was faced with criticism rather than applause. The local government was more interested in covering their tracks and discrediting Lida than working to improve the community’s water supply. This opposition ultimately led to Lisa’s recall from the Board. However, Lisa didn’t let that stop her from shedding light on the situation and continues to enlighten and empower her community on the matter.

Lisa Stone of Buffalo Grove Discusses Heroin’s Damaging Effects on the Brain

In order to understand how heroin affects the brain, first, let’s look at how the brain works. The brain has millions of “receptor” cells that respond to chemicals in the body. This can include things we consume, such as food, drink, and drugs.

Heroin and the Brain’s Opioid Receptors

The receptors cells that respond to heroin and other opioid drugs are called opioid receptors. The brain will naturally produce endorphins, a chemical that attaches to these opioid receptors. Endorphins reduce pain, depression, and stress, as well as to help regulate our appetite and sleep. If your brain produces lots of endorphins, you will get that blissful, opioid high.

When someone uses heroin, it immediately enters the bloodstream and makes its way to the brain. Once inside the brain, heroin (as well as other opioid drugs) attaches to the opioid receptors and is changed into morphine as well as a chemical called 6-Monoacetylmorphine. It takes the body less than 20 minutes to convert heroin into morphine and 6-Monoacetylmorphine. This conversion process is what creates the short-lived high. However, 6-Monoacetylmorphine and Morphine remain in the brain for several hours, continuing to attach to the opioid receptors. This causes a prolonged high that is milder than the initial, short-lived high.

Why Heroin is Addictive

As the opioid receptors begin to adapt to heroin use, they become less responsive. These changes make the brain rely on heroin in order to function normally. Without heroin, the opioid receptors of an addicted person start to behave erratically.

How Heroin Causes Brain Damage

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the most common way heroin causes of brain damage is it slows breathing to a dangerously low level. In that way, heroin use prevents the brain from getting enough oxygen. Without enough oxygen, the brain cells slowly die, and when enough brain cells die, the heroin user also dies. The sad fact is, most people who die from a heroin overdose died because they stopped breathing.

However, users can survive a heroin overdose. The level of brain damage depends on how long the person was without sufficient oxygen. Some people are able to make a full recovery because their brain wasn’t without oxygen long enough to kill too many brain cells. However, if a heroin addict loses enough brain cells, it can seriously change how their brain works, leading to cognitive deficits.