Teen heroin use in Naperville has garnered significant attention this year after the deaths of seven young people and the premiere of a student-produced film documenting the issue. Now, local politicians are trying their hand at tackling the problem.
Read More on Patch's "Heroin: Naperville's Drug Reality" Page
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert is set to host the Heroin Education and Prevention Forum next week at North Central College. A Drug Enforcement Administration special agent as well as health education and addiction specialists will also join Biggert for the event.
The forum will be held at North Central College’s Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E. Chicago Ave., on Monday, July 16 from 7 to 9 p.m. and is open to the public.
“Heroin use among kids has taken an alarming turn, and for many parents, it’s not a drug we’re used to watching out for,” said Biggert, a senior member of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workplace, in a press release. “One drug-related death is one too many. And experts agree that the most important weapon we have in this battle is prevention.”
Since the fall of 2011 a number of community forums have been held to help educate the public about the rise of heroin use in Naperville. The problem is also growing in neighboring communities, which is why Monday’s event will also focus on the use of heroin throughout the Chicago suburbs.
The number of young people in Naperville who are using the drug has grown exponentially in recent years, and according to one official heroin use is up 200 percent in Chicago’s collar counties.
“The rise in demand for heroin, here in the Chicago metropolitan area is a significant concern,” said Jack Riley, DEA Special Agent in charge of the Chicago Field Division, in a press release. “This increase in availability and abuse is due in part to the substantial involvement of Mexican criminal organizations in heroin trafficking.”
Biggert’s Heroin Education and Prevention forum also will feature personal narratives, including a presentation by John Roberts, who lost of his son to a heroin overdose. Roberts is the founder of a local non-profit called Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization (HERO), which provides families with prevention, intervention and support services.
Bill Patrianakos, a recovering heroin addict who serves on the board of HERO, will share his own story of recovery as well.
“HERO is very grateful for Congressman Biggert lending her support and leadership to help stop the heroin epidemic in the Chicago metro area,” said Roberts in a press release. “Too many young people have lost their lives and too many families have been destroyed by the spread of this drug over the last few years.”