Over 100 school social workers, probation officers, firefighters and paramedics from about 50 organizations attended Rosecrance’s “The New Heroin Epidemic” training March 22 in Naperville.
Training specialist Melissa “MJ” Jendusa kicked off the full-day event by discussing signs and symptoms of heroin addiction, how the abuse of heroin causes the brain’s chemistry to change, and the importance of medically assisted treatment (MAT).
Chris Gleason, Rosecrance’s administrator of regional behavioral health services, educated attendees about treatment considerations and community involvement. “This is a community problem and it needs a community solution. That person that you’ve revived five times with Narcan, how do we help them get a counselor? That’s a community response.”
Specifically, the training focused on heroin use in young adults between 18-25 years of age, one of the age groups at greatest risk for death. Gleason discussed the problems specific to this age group that lead to negative coping skills and heroin addiction. These problems include shifts in societal attitudes about adulthood obligations, less financial stability, and an increased focus on education. “People aren’t born with internal motivation, it’s a learned behavior. We have to grow the internal motivation in these young adults,” said Gleason.
This training was the last of three separate workshops that covered this topic. Rosecrance has provided these sessions free of charge to communities to foster education and encourage collaboration with other agencies and partners.