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Northampton Community College Professor Charged with Selling Heroin

Tara E. Bealer, age 41, is charged with 83 drug offenses and endangering the welfare of a child after police served a search warrant for her home on Jan. 20th. An overdose at Bealer’s home on Nov. 21st caused police to conduct an investigation on Bealer and her residence. An informant for the Nazareth Police reported on Jan. 03rd that Bealer was selling around 50 bags of heroin a day from her home on East Chestnut Street in Nazareth. On Jan. 16th the informant bought two bags of heroin from Bealer at her home and then again on Jan. 18th and Jan. 20th. The bags from the Jan. 18th and Jan. 20th controlled purchases tested positive for heroin.

At the end of the search of Bealer’s residence, Bealer was charged with four counts felony possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, six counts misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, 71 counts misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, two counts misdemeanor possession of marijuana and one count felony endangering the welfare of a child. Bealer was released from Northampton County Prison after posting a $50,000 bail. Bealer’s preliminary hearing on Feb. 22nd was postponed to a later date yet to be decided.

Bealer’s arrest was a surprise to both students and instructors at NCC. “I was shocked and disheartened to hear the news about her drug involvement,” said a student who had taken Bealer’s sociology class at Monroe campus. The student wishes to remain anonymous due to the nature of Bealer’s arrest.

Bealer is a graduate of Cedar Crest College and Lehigh University with a Master’s Degree in Sociology. She taught at Northampton Community College (Monroe Campus), ESU, and several other local higher learning institutes as an Adjunct Instructor of Sociology.

“I can look back and say I thought she had a true interest in the course material and encouraged class participation and discussion. Another thing I distinctly remember is her pride in how she talked about earning her Bachelors and Master’s degrees – she seemed to imply that she overcame rough circumstances and I appreciated and respected her for that,” stated the anonymous student.

In 2000 Bealer was an addiction and recovery counselor at the New Hope Foundation addiction treatment center in Marlboro Township, NJ. Bealer was also a campaign organizer from 2005 to 2006 for the grassroots campaign Renew Lehigh Valley, which was focused on the professional growth and development of the Lehigh Valley. In 2006 she began teaching as an Adjunct Instructor for NCC.

In 2008 to 2009 Bealer worked as a mobile therapist for Valley Youth House, an organization that provides shelter and professional help for abused and homeless young people, counseling clients ages 5 to 18 with traumatic life experiences such as addiction, abuse, neglect, abandonment and mental illness. This semester, Bealer was supposed to teach a sociology course, but she has been suspended by administrators after the charges became public.

“I feel bad that even though she overcame circumstances to rise to an academic level of achievement to be proud of, she succumbed to the power of a drug that has ruined the lives of so many in this area. I’m conflicted about whether to feel sorry for her or disappointed that such an educated woman and scholastic role model would act in a way that defied the law on so many levels,” said the anonymous student.

A random poll found that 15 out of 50 NCC students know someone who has either taken or sold heroin. That number increased to 21 out of 50 students when taken at East Stroudsburg University, approximately 32 miles away.

The price of heroin depends on the purity and availability of the drug, along with the dealer’s price or the local market. A single dose, sometimes referred to as a “stamp,” is about $10 to $20. A heavy users may spend anywhere from $150 to $200 a day to get the consistent sense of being high from heroin. Tara Bealer was reported selling up to 50 bags a day, which would make $500 to $1,000 a day, or $3,500 to $7000 a week – all of which are tax free and in-pocket.

NCC does not require drug tests upon hiring, but this is of little consequence. Drug users have various methods for maneuvering around drug screenings, such as one day detoxes, purchasing clean urine, or simply abstaining from usage.

The use of opioids spans back thousands of years, but heroin is a relatively new drug. In 1898 a German company who was exploring medicine synthesizing in order to diversify their product line, after their original intent of coal-tar dye manufacturing fell through the cracks, created a two painkillers. The company: Bayer. The painkillers: Aspirin and Heroin. Heroin received its name from the German adjective heroisch (meaning “heroic”) for its potency by German doctors.

Morphine was also made in Germany by Friedrich Sertürner in 1805, who identified and refined the active ingredient in opium using the crude materials of the poppy plant. Morphine, originally Morphium, was named by Sertürner after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus. Although it is not specified, one could infer this was due to the euphoric dream-like state opioids put the user in.

Heroin was first marketed in Germany for chest and lung illnesses, since it was created before antibiotics. In this pre-antibiotic era, doctors prescribed painkillers in order to comfort those suffering from chest pains and sleeplessness, essentially making them high while they slowly died from the prominent diseases of the time such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Morphine was the prominent painkiller of the day in the early 1800’s until the creation of heroin. Doctors preferred heroin’s higher potency and quicker onset of effects. These effects are primarily due to heroin being a synthesized drug, essentially a refined form of morphine. Heroin’s purified state allows it to be delivered from the bloodstream to the brain quicker than the more natural morphine.

After the first initial clinical trials (presumably during the late 19th century), heroin was seen as a new wonder drug and was quickly marketed as a “new, safe, addiction-free substitute to morphine,” which was appealing to doctors in the United States who were dealing with a morphine addiction epidemic brought on by the Civil War.

However, as early as 1889, the year heroin was first marketed, G. Strube conducted research for the Medical University Clinic of Berlin. Strube found the drug to be effective but felt that there should be more research to find if continued use would be harmful or lead to “heroinism.”

In 1902 J. Jarrige stated that heroin withdrawals were more severe than withdrawals from morphine while conducting observations on patients being prescribed heroin to combat their morphine addictions.

It was only in 1920 that the United States enacted the Dangerous Drug Act, making drugs such as heroin federally regulated, but by 1925 there was an estimated 200,000 heroin addicts within United States. Additionally it was believed that at beginning of the 20th century there were over a quarter of a million Americans out of 76 million people addicted to opium, morphine, and cocaine. These drugs were primary ingredients in remedies such as cough syrups and “soothing syrups” for restless infants.

It would seem that the 1960s brought about an explosion of drug use in American society, especially with the youth, but in reality, as stated above, drugs were always an issue in America and merely remained a topic discussed in hushed voices in private places. Other than that, drugs were used by social outcasts such as the poor or foreigners. However, this is not the case throughout history. In the 1800’s middle to upper-class housewives were the primary consumers of opioid based medicines (opium, morphine, codeine, and later heroin) of the time bought for the home’s drug cabinet, but to the majority of the American public only the poor, foreigners, or the depraved used drugs.

From the 1960s through today, drugs use has become an open topic of popular culture. A brief list of songs which include references to heroin include “The Needle and the Spoon” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Heroin” and “I’m Waiting For The Man” by The Velvet Underground, “The Needle and the Damage Done” by Neil Young, ”Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, “King Heroin” by James Brown, “Badfish” by Sublime, “Time to Pretend” by MGMT, and”The A Team” by Ed Sheeran.

Recently (1990s to now) Heroin’s popularity can be attributed to many things. In the 1980’s the HIV/AIDS epidemic made injecting heroin incredibly risky and many people turned away from the drug or simply snorted it. In the 1990’s the prices fell and the purity increased, making it the drug of the time. This can be seen in the popularity of grunge bands such as Nirvana, the Heroin Chic fashion trend capitalized upon by Calvin Klein, and films of the time period such as The Basketball Diaries, Trainspotting, Kids, Permanent Midnight, and Pulp Fiction.

Today, the rise of Heroin use is attributed to the rise in prescription opioid abuse. Many believe that when people who abuse prescription opioids (a substantial amount being teens and young adults) can no longer afford or obtain them, they turn to the cheaper, readily available heroin. Several former users, who wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, affirm this and admit to substituting pills for heroin and vice versa.

If history is any indicator, these problems will not go away any time soon.