Lali-Palooza spotlights heroin addiction in Lake County
Fundraiser hosted by Live4Lali and Lake County State's Attorney's office
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The innumerable speeches that 17-year-old Dylan Jelinek heard in the 3 ½ years he did drugs didn't make a dent on his desire to get high.
"I heard lots of people who talked about not doing drugs, but they were always older. I would just blow it off and say, 'I gotta go smoke some pot,'" Dylan said.
The Lake Villa resident was among the speakers Saturday at Lali-Palooza, a fundraiser co-hosted by the nonprofit Live4Lali and the Lake County State's Attorney's office.
Dylan says he recently got out of rehab for heroin addiction and has been clean for 58 days. He now wants to be someone with whom young heroin users can relate.
"I know what they are going through," he said. "I can talk to them like I am one of them," he said.
Lali-Palooza's draws its name from Alex "Lali" Laliberte, a 20-year-old from Buffalo Grove who died of a heroin overdose in 2008. His sister, Chelsea Laliberte, started Live4Lali in 2009 to increase awareness about substance abuse in Lake County.
Lali-Palooza, held at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake, featured a battle of the bands that included Des Plaines residents Rhys Bakulinski and Maddie Kulbersh, both 15, of the band O'Mighty.
"Kids have this idea that they are all-powerful and nothing can happen to them. This teaches them that it's not worth it (to do drugs) in any way," Bakulinski said.
"The message is that you're not weak for needing help," Kulbersh added.
Proceeds from Saturday's event will go toward drug overdose prevention and education initiatives, including the Lake County Opioid Prevention Initiative, which formed last May.
"Heroin use has gone up, and heroin awareness has gone up, too," said Chelsea Laliberte, who works in community outreach for the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University.
"What do we need to do stop this? That's what we are trying to figure out," she said.
One thing families can do is have Naloxone in the house, said Caroline Kacena of Naperville. Kacena gave training demonstrations on how to use Naloxone, also known as Narcan, which reverses the effects of opioid overdose.
Illinois law allows families to administer the antidote in the event of an overdose, said Kacena, whose son died of a heroin overdose in July 2012. Kacena said she found out about Naloxone through The Chicago Recovery Alliance.
"This is a tool for surviving, a tool for recovery," she said, adding she advocates a national Naloxone law. "My goal is to get it to the using community to decrease the number of deaths."
Many of those who attended Lali-Palooza didn't want to disclose their names, saying they have loved ones who are battling drug addiction.
A Highland Park man who took the Naloxone training with his wife and daughters said his son has been in and out of rehab for heroin addiction. The training was great, he said.
"We're going to always have it (Naloxone) in case something happens," he said.
The cost of rehab can be a huge obstacle to drug addicts who want to get help, said Laura, a recovering alcoholic and addict from Waukegan.
She said she sought help from a detox facility in Chicago that takes public aid, but she needed more.
"If I got into a good, clean, safe environment with the proper counseling," she said, "I think I could have got the help I really needed."
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