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updated: 1/23/2012 9:11 AM

Arm yourself against the addiction scourge

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

If you believe you and your loved ones are immune, you're wrong.

We've been writing about the Hidden Scourge of heroin and other addictions for more than a decade now. There are far too many adults among us who know no one is immune.

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They are good parents. They raised good kids. They checked on their children regularly and knew most of the tricks. They thought they were executing tough love when the drinking or smoking experimentation started.

And suddenly, they found themselves in this unbearable mess. Alone. Wondering how this happened. Fearing, literally, for their children's lives. Never really resting again. Wondering what the next phone call or text might bring.

This is the living nightmare too many among us live with each and every minute of every day.

We first reported it back in 2001 when we found at least 13 suburban teens or young adults had died then from heroin or club drugs. We learned then that potent heroin that could be snorted rather than injected was the new rage. Teens and young adults were driving to Chicago's West Side getting high for only $10. And getting hooked. Nearly immediately.

We told the stories of the scourge repeatedly, incessantly, for more than two years, focusing on tips and advice. We hosted a forum in St. Charles. But addiction still wins far too often.

For the past year, we've refocused on it in stories we've called "Heroin's Heartache: The Hidden Scourge Revisited." And there are plenty of parents and others out there trying to offer help, support and warnings too.

Please listen to them. Take advantage of them. If you have younger or middle-school kids, it's not too early to learn how to help protect them.

At another forum in St. Charles last week, only 20 attended and they were people already scarred by the scourge.

There, Batavia resident Carrie Brummel, a drug court graduate, told how she started using alcohol and pot in middle school and first tried heroin when she was 15 and a straight-A cheerleader.

If you think you're immune, you're kidding yourself.

Drug counselor Lea Minalga told parents to drug test their teens to give them that excuse to use when they face peer pressure. She suggested parents search their kids' cars and rooms. Kane County Undersheriff David Wagner said families should dispose of leftover painkillers.

Another forum is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Glenbard North High School, 990 Kuhn Road, Carol Stream. It's hosted by Glenbard District 87 and a parents group and will feature stories and advice from a prosecutor, a drug counselor and four parents who have been scarred.

Get there. If you think you're immune, you're wrong. And that ignorance just might cost you. Dearly.

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