Two Valley View School District 365U students died earlier this school year from heroin overdoses. In Will County, the tally of heroin-related deaths is at 37.
The increase in the use of the drug and deaths tied to it has led to public meetings throughout the area, including in Naperville, Romeoville and Channahon. The latest will be held Wednesday at Romeoville High School, hosted by Valley View School District 365U and the Romeoville Police Department.
Several young people in the Bolingbrook and Romeoville areas have lost their lives in the past two months because of heroin overdoses, Romeoville Chief of Police Mark Turvey said in a Valley View district release.
While Valley View confirmed the two deaths, the district would not release more information "out of respect for their families."
In March, Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said heroin use had reached epidemic levels.
“Our kids can pick up a hit of heroin for less than the price of a movie ticket,” he told Channahon Village Board members. "This is something we’ve never experienced before."
Glasgow said then that the county was on track for 60 fatal overdoses in 2012. Will County has hit 37 so far, up from the 30 deaths recorded in 2011.
There was a shift in drug use from cocaine to heroin three years ago, Glasgow told the March audience. The chance of overdose is higher with heroin, Glasgow said. Heroin has become more socially acceptable as the purity of the drug has increased and it is no longer necessary to use a needle to take heroin.
The community forum, which begins at 7 p.m., will feature a variety of experts discussing the heroin problem and possible solutions. Attendees will have an opportunity to relate personal experiences, ask questions and seek answers.
Among scheduled panel members: Will County Executive Larry Walsh, Will County States Attorney James Glasgow, Will County Associate Judge Ray Nash, Dr. Joe Troiani of the Will County Health Department, Kathleen Burke of the Robert Crown Center for Health Education, Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization (HERO) co-founder John Roberts and VVSD mom Ana Ibarra.
A community resource fair staffed by local treatment providers, churches and the medical community will be held at 6 p.m. prior to the Town Hall meeting.
“This forum isn’t just for people whose lives have been touched by drug abuse,” said VVSD Superintendent Dr. James Mitchem in the district release.
“Every family needs to know about the dangers of heroin. It is imperative that we start talking about this alarming increase in the use of this drug right now by getting the word out to as many people as we possibly can.”
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