U.S. Representative Judy Biggert (R-IL-13) will host a Heroin Education and Prevention Forum to address the growing problem of teen heroin use in suburban Chicago. The event is open to the public and will be held at North Central College Wentz Concert Hall, 171 East Chicago Avenue in Naperville on July 16, 2012 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The comprehensive forum will feature a series of presentations from those on the front lines of the fight against heroin, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Robert Crown Center for Health Education, the Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction at Rush University Medical Center, and others.
"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. "One drug-related death is one too many. And experts agree that the most important weapon we have in this battle is prevention."
"The Robert Crown Center (RCC) for Health Education is thrilled to participate in the forum sponsored by Rep. Biggert," said Kathleen Burke, CEO of RCC. "Heroin use and abuse is a community challenge requiring a whole community solution. We have spent the last two years assembling family members, law enforcement, educators, researchers, lawyers and judges to create a collaborative approach to this health problem plaguing the suburbs. With the help of national leaders like Rep. Biggert, we can put the emphasis where it needs to be: on prevention through education."
A representative from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will discuss the prevalence of heroin use in the Chicago area and what is being done by law enforcement to curb access to the highly-addictive drug.
"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. "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 & Prevention forum also will feature personal narratives, including a presentation by John Roberts, who lost of his son to a heroin overdose. Following the tragedy, he launched a local non-profit called Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization (HERO), which provides families with prevention, intervention and support services. Also, Bill Patrianakos, a recovering heroin addict who serves on the board of HERO, will share his own story of recovery.
"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. "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."