Heroin is present in Grundy County, and local officials are working to ensure the community is aware of its increasing presence.
“It is surfacing more and more, and we want to be proactive and avoid someone dying from this drug,” said Paula Goodwin of the No Tolerance Task Force.
The Grundy County State’s Attorney’s Office, No Tolerance Task Force, Coal City police and Coal City Community Unit School District 1 are hosting a heroin forum Nov. 20 at Coal City High School as part of that awareness campaign.
“The problem is [heroin] is cheap and readily available,” Grundy County State’s Attorney Jason Helland said. “Kids are getting into it so we are trying to inform the community.”
The forum will feature two speakers: Pat Spangler, a senior addictions counselor at Rosecrance, Harrison Campus, in Rockford; and John Roberts, who co-founded the Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization after losing his son, Billy, to heroin in 2010.
Spangler has worked in the substance abuse field for 18 years, according to the forum flier. He will focus on current opiate abuse trends and treatments.
Roberts is a retired captain from the Chicago Police Department and is actively involved in heroin-related legislation in Illinois. He will talk about how to cope with the loss of a loved one, how to react to and deal with a current user and how to prevent drug use or spot the signs of it.
The panel also will include Coal City police Chief Tom Best; Kristi Polk of Crossroads Counseling; Christina Hintze-Symoniak, deputy chief coroner for the Grundy County Coroner’s Office; Helland; Dr. Ronald Wuest from the Institute for Professional Development; Elizabeth Thrun and Kevin Bernard of Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers; and Brian Hazard of Stepping Stones Treatment & Recovery Center.
The forum topics include the abuse of heroin, its side effects, treatment and the penalties for possession and distribution of it. A question-and-answer session will be at the end of the discussion.
A mock-up of a teen’s bedroom called “In Plain Sight” will be set up at the event, Helland said. The bedroom will show parents what to look for in their children’s bedrooms for hints of drug use and how they can be hiding paraphernalia in “plain view.”
The community forum is intended for parents, guardians, educators, health professionals and community members. Teenagers and children are discouraged, Goodwin said.
If You Go
What: Heroin Forum
When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20
Where: Coal City High School Auditorium, 655 W. Division St., Coal City
Who: The community forum is intended for parents, guardians, educators, health professionals and community members