John Roberts isn’t just a recovery hero in name; he’s also a recovery hero in fact. And his Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization (HERO) proves it. Then again, Roberts lost his son Billy to the epidemic. So for him this is personal.
Roberts’s son Billy died on September 20, 2009. One year later he founded the Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization (HERO).
“It is that day we decided we can’t stay at home and lick our wounds,” Roberts told Patch. Since then he’s made it his mission to help combat the opioid epidemic. The Hero Helps Community Summit is one of Roberts’ annual high points.
A joint effort between HERO and HELPS (Heroin Education Leads to Preventative Solutions), the Will County, Illinois confab gives a number of community organizations an opportunity to gauge where they are, how far they’ve come, and where they need to go in the fight for the lives of so many Prairie State residents.
This year’s event also featured remarks from Governor J. B. Pritzker, Will County Executive Larry Walsh Sr. and Romeoville Mayor John Noak.
“We need more mental health providers, psychiatric services, more primary care physicians, nursing professionals, recovery professionals and treatment beds,” Pritzker said. To that end, “we’re going to rebuild the state’s social service infrastructure.”
“Addiction does not take place in a vacuum,” he added. “Agencies, services, and programs that provide our families with the tools they need to thrive have been hollowed out for years. We’re going to rebuild it.”
Pritzker also touted the increased distribution of Narcan to rural communities
“This past year, alone, we’ve trained 710 law enforcement agents in rural communities and distributed 729 Narcan kits,” he said. “Statewide we’ve distributed nearly 1,000 kits to our state police, fire marshals, and correction agencies.”
According to Patch, “more than 13,600 lives were saved through Narcan” over the last year. And if the governor gets his way, more will be saved still.
“We’ll continue to expand [Narcan] distribution,” said Pritzker, “so we can save lives going forward.”
Roberts, in turn, advocated to have drug education implemented in every Illinois high school. He also urged legislators to make it law.
“Until I join Billy,” said Roberts, “I’m going to fight. [And] I’m calling on you to help. We have to do whatever we can to save lives.”
Applauding a Recovery Hero
Healing Properties would like to applaud John Roberts and HERO, as well as HELP and all the other organizations involved in the Hero Helps Community Summit. We’d also like to applaud Illinois Governor Pritzker and his office for so seriously addressing the opioid epidemic.
The governor’s right. There aren’t enough addiction treatment centers in his state. We’ve treated enough Illinois residents to know. And while we wholeheartedly welcome his effort to open more rehabs, we hope he doesn’t neglect all-too crucial aftercare. Not every addict is best served by homestate addiction treatment. But all addicts need and deserve access to a strong continuum of care program when they return home.
“You must learn what helps and what hurts,” said Roberts, addressing officials and loved ones alike. Spoken like a true recovery hero.
If you or someone you loved is battling addiction to heroin or any other drug, please give us a call. We offer scores of recovery options, including PHP, IOP and Aftercare. And we help men from every state in the union.