New overdose prevention event coming to Naperville
An organization dedicated to helping families overcome a loved one's addiction is sponsoring a new event in Naperville to mark International Overdose Awareness Day.
Organizer Deb Lewin of Naperville would say she's excited, but she catches herself.
"Excited isn't really the word to use. I don't know what the word to use is," said Lewin, executive director of operations for the PATH to Recovery Foundation. "We're happy to bring the awareness to the community and things like that. But it's to honor those lives that are gone, too. It's very humbling."
After a year in which opioid overdose deaths reached record highs in DuPage, Lake and Will counties, preventing overdoses remains a major goal of officials in law enforcement and public health across the region.
International Overdose Awareness Day is Saturday, Aug. 31.
But the PATH event is one day earlier, set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at the Riverwalk Grand Pavilion, 912 Honorary Sindt Memorial Court, Naperville.
Lewin said booths from 23 organizations will be on the lawn near the pavilion to offer education about the opioid crisis and the broader issue of substance abuse.
The DuPage County Health Department will conduct a Narcan training and give free take-home doses of the overdose antidote, Lewin said. HERO, which stands for Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization, will set up its "Hidden in Plain Sight" trailer featuring a mock bedroom to help parents learn where to spot drug paraphernalia.
"We'll have everything from other support groups to treatment centers, harm reduction, HIV (testing), any type of resource that you would need in this disease (of addiction)," Lewin said.
Lindsay Hartman from the Point to Point Mobile Syringe Access Program, based in Kane County, will speak about harm reduction and offer "all that you would need to be safe until you're ready to make a change, just to keep you alive," Lewin said.
PATH also will offer fentanyl test strips to determine whether a supply of drugs contains the powerful opioid that is 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin.
Speakers will include parents who have lost children to drug overdoses and people who are in recovery.
In the past, the PATH to Recovery Foundation, which Lewin launched in 2014 after her now 25-year-old son, Ryan, began his recovery, has participated in Overdose Awareness Day events in Will County or Chicago.
But closer to home seemed better.
"I can rattle off endless names that have lost their lives in the community and so many of my son's friends are no longer with us," she said. "So I thought we really need to bring it here."
The new Overdose Awareness event, Lewin said, will include resources from DuPage County and beyond to help overcome addiction.
"We just want to make it a memorial event and we also want to educate the community that this has not gone away; this hasn't changed. It isn't any better," she said. "But there are options for families and the person who is using. There is hope."