Mom hopes to spare others pain caused by child's overdose
It wasn't just her son's heroin overdose that stunned Theresa Blasucci in June 2001.
She was more shocked to learn some neighbors knew of the boy's drug problem, but never told her about it.
"The very next day I went to the hospital and said to my son Nick. 'I want to know everyone that's doing it,' " the Glendale Heights resident said.
So she got names from Nick and tried to warn their parents _ only to find out some were already aware of the hold heroin had on their children .
"I just wished someone had told me earlier, because there were people that knew or had suspicions," Blasucci said. "I think we have an obligation to each other as parents.
"Right now, I think we have this code of silence that needs to stop. Even if they just say 'Hey this is what's going on, I thought you should know'."
Now she's trying to get everyone talking. Four months after Nick's overdose, Blasucci joined with 34 local families to form Help End Addiction with Love, a drug awareness group.
Today, HEAL members will host their first Drug Prevention Block Party at 3:30 p.m. at the corners of Mark and Marilyn streets in Glendale Heights.
"The idea is getting these youths that are at risk and to spend the day with them," she said.
Paul Teodo, director of behavioral health services at Central DuPage Hospital, thinks events like the block party are a step in the right direction.
"Anything that can be done that closes the gap ... is a good thing. When teenagers see adults in a different light, they might be more receptive to the wisdom we may have as adults."
The party aims to offer education and create relationships between families, schools and law enforcement, so people will feel comfortable discussing touchy issues like addiction.
"There are 14 kids dealing with addiction within a six-block radius of our home," said Blasucci, whose son survived the overdose. "It really seems like it is an epidemic in DuPage County."
While drugs have not directly touched every member of HEAL, prevention is important to all of them. To stop the cycle of addiction, HEAL targets adolescents.
"Prevention with heroin is really the key because we all know the success rate is really low," she said. "It becomes a lifelong commitment to recovery."
The block party also will examine the stigma that comes with addiction. Nick, who returned from rehab last month, will talk one-on-one with his neighbors about his experience.
"Kids who have addictions are stereotyped; like they're just not part of society any longer," Theresa Blasucci said. "People don't see (Nick) when he's at home and kisses and hugs me every day. Or how he does his chores all the time. They just see an addict. I guess that's why it hurts when somebody says something mean."
Even after the block party ends, HEAL members will continue their work to spread drug education. The group will canvass Glendale Heights and pass out pamphlets during Make a Difference Day on Oct. 26.
"We want to say 'This is who we are, we love our kids and we want to save you from going through what we've went through'," Blasucci said.