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HERO HELPS announces speakers for Community Forum

Leading researcher, physician, psychologist, and local judicial experts to lead educational sessions during Community Forum April 13

HERO HELPS is a daylong community forum scheduled for April 13 in the JFK Fieldhouse at Lewis University in Romeoville to educate the public about heroin use and the overdose death epidemic in Will County.
Part of the day’s event will include presentations from leaders in the research, prevention, and treatment of heroin addiction. According to Paul Lauridsen, forum coordinator, the guest speakers will provide information on community wide public health strategies aimed at reducing heroin use and overdose deaths.
“Each speaker has extensive experience related to preventing heroin use or helping those with an addiction to heroin or other drugs.” Lauridsen said. “We are proud to have speakers of this caliber participating in this event.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow will discuss alternatives to incarceration which include the successful Drug Court program. Will County Judge Ray Nash will talk about the legal consequences of drug possession and therapeutic judicial practices.
Dr. Celeste Napier will share her research in drug addiction as it relates to mental and neurological diseases and Dr. Gawtham Gutta will address medication assisted treatment. Dr. Towanna Edwards and Mark Sanders will speak to mental wellness and opiate use risk reduction practices. Richard Weisskopf, from the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse within the Illinois Department of Human Services, will discuss overdose prevention.
Kris Adzia, from the Robert Crown Center for Health Education, will talk about the heroin education curriculum the center is developing and Kelli Bettenhausen will share information about YESS Youth Experiencing Success in School, an initiative of the Joliet Township High School District.
“Those attending will leave the forum with a wealth of information on heroin, heroin addiction, what we can do to reduce overdose deaths, and what we can do to reduce the demand for heroin.,” Lauridsen said. “Awareness, knowledge, and adopting targeted community wide strategies are fundamental to a public health response. It will take all of us, working together, to stop this epidemic.”
The event also includes a keynote address at 9:30 a.m. The four educational sessions will be held concurrently from 10:35 a.m. until 11:50 a.m. A Community Forum will be held from 12:30 p.m. until 2:15 p.m. and the public will have the opportunity to ask direct questions of these presenters.
A youth rally, featuring three nationally known bands, will be held from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. For more information, visit the website:

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