The horrors of opioid addiction are the theme of a haunted house in a Maryland town this week, complete with scenes that depict a frightening overdose and agonizing details of families struggling with the fallout of addiction. Dubbed “the Haunted Trap House”, the event takes place from Thursday through Saturday in Centreville, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Sponsored by the Queen Anne’s County Drug Free Coalition and directed by leaders from the county Department of Health and Department of Emergency Services, the Haunted Trap House will convey the scary realities of heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioids to young people and their families. Last year alone, Queen Anne’s County saw 122 drug overdoses with 16 fatalities.

In drug culture, a trap house is a building or house where drugs are bought, sold, and used by multiple individuals. Maggie Thomas, the director of Addiction and Prevention Services for the Queen Anne’s County Department of Health, explained that the Haunted Trap House comes 30 years after a similar event, the Haunted Crack House, debuted in Centreville in 1989 to expose the dangers of crack cocaine.

“The opioid epidemic is devastating to our community. We have too many lethal and non-lethal overdoses in Queen Anne’s County each year,” said Thomas. “With this in mind, our executive steering team changed the name to, ‘Haunted Trap House,’ after much discussion and with input from the target population—middle and high school-aged students and young adults.”  

Fellow co-director of the event Eric Johnson, an emergency management planner with the Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services, shared some of the terrifying details of the community’s experience with opioid addiction with the Washington Post.

“In one of our most recent overdoses, the guy still had the needle in his arm when the woman with him called 911 to say he OD’d. Then, she took the needle out of his arm and put it in hers because, she told responders, ‘it was some good shit,’ ” he said.

The Haunted Trap House

As they travel through the house, visitors are confronted with the stark realities faced by someone entrapped in addiction, from the first experience with opioids down the path to overdose. Roles are filled by members of the local community playing themselves, including a judge presiding over a courtroom scene.

Johnson, who has lost four family members to the opioid crisis, hopes that the Haunted Trap House experience will serve as a cautionary tale for those who brave its horrors.

“If we can help one person, just one person stops using or doesn’t start using because of this,” Johnson said, “it’s all worth it.”

The Haunted Trap House will be held at the Kennard African American Cultural Heritage Center in Centreville Thursday, October 24 through Saturday, October 26. Food trucks, live music, and spooky activities will also be featured. The haunted house is intended for middle school-aged children and older and their families. Free childcare services for younger children will be available. Tickets are available online for $3.

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