Heroin abuse continues to plague communities across the state of Illinois. On April 19, 2013 community leaders and the public will come together once again to learn what can be done to turn around this dangerous trend.
In April of 2012, local leaders joined together to bring awareness to this growing problem at the first HERO HELPS community forum held at Lewis University. Nearly 800 people from across the state attended the daylong conference which addressed the social, legal, medical, and community effects of heroin use. While the level of awareness increased considerably as a result of this event, there is still work to be done to help curb the number of overdose deaths. In 2012, Will County officials reported 54 heroin overdose deaths.
This year’s event is being sponsored by Will County HELPS (Heroin Education Leads to Preventative Solutions) and HERO (Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization) in conjunction with the Southwest Coalition for Substance Abuse Issues. At the end of this conference, organizers hope a standardized protocol across hospitals will be developed to help overdose patients and their families.
“Tragically, the number of heroin overdose deaths in Will County has dramatically increased,” said Paul Lauridsen, Clinical Director of Stepping Stones Treatment and Recovery Center in Joliet. “The leap from 30 heroin overdose deaths in 2011 to 54 deaths in 2012 demands widespread community action.”
“A number of experts in their fields will be speakers at the forum,” Lauridsen said. “They will be sharing information about best practices and promising approaches in healthcare and educational settings.”
Medical professionals, counselors/social workers, treatment and prevention providers, university and high school students, parents, educators, consumers, community service organization representatives, police, judges, prosecutors, and public officials are invited to attend this important event. More information will be forthcoming.