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Forum addresses ‘the devil’ — heroin

Commander John Keating OrlPark Police Department speaks during drug alcohol symposium focusing herohosted by OrlTownship Sandburg High School OrlPark Wednesday

Commander John Keating, of the Orland Park Police Department, speaks during a drug and alcohol symposium, focusing on heroin, hosted by Orland Township at Sandburg High School in Orland Park Wednesday, May 2, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Special section: Heroin in the suburbs
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Updated: June 4, 2012 11:50AM



“Heroin is the devil. It consumes you. It’s not worth it.”

Those were the words of Jessica Skierkiewicz, 23, of Oak Forest, a recovering drug addict who had been sitting and listening attentively Wednesday night during a drug forum at Sandburg High School in Orland Park.

Orland Park police Cmdr. John Keating held the attention of a crowd of about 200 people as he delved into the subject of growing heroin and drug traffic going through Orland Park and other suburbs.

Keating, along with at least two dozen Orland Park officials and a panel that included former drug addicts, experts and counselors, all were part of Orland Township’s first Community Link Symposium. The event was geared to addressing the growing heroin use among teenagers and the battle against it. Parents were filled in on the trend and warning signs of drug use.

According to Keating, heroin is making its way to suburban kids through dealers who drive into Chicago to buy and then sell.

“Heroin is easier and cheaper to make money off of,” he said.

Keating said that while making arrests is important to collect intelligence about an operation, he said the most important concern is intervention and parental involvement.

“We’re mainly seeing 17- to 26-year-olds overdosing,” Keating said. “A lot of parents feel embarrassed for reaching out for help, thinking they are bad parents because their kids are overdosing or on drugs. Kids don’t always reflect the character of their parents. Get help.”

Keating also touched on the importance of parents monitoring their children’s Facebook and other social media pages.

“We have known users that communicate on Facebook,” Keating said. “Know what your kids are doing online, and learn the slang terms (for heroin).”

“Smack,” “H,” :skag,” “junk,” and “black tar” were some of the slang terms Keating shared.

Skierkiewicz said every teenager and parent needed to hear what Keating and the other speakers were saying.

“I started smoking pot at 14, cocaine at 15, Ecstasy and acid at 16, crack at 19, prescription pills at 19; I had to go to rehab for my pill addiction,” she said.

Skierkiewicz said heroin wasn’t around that much when she was in high school — she said she didn’t start using until she was 21 — but that she now sees it going on around her old high school.

Next week marks two months since Skierkiewicz has been sober.

“I have friends now,” she said. “I’m not scheming to get my next dollar. I’m not sitting in the bathroom snorting and shooting up.”

Her mother said her daughter’s addiction affected their entire family.

“I feel like I’ve lost a daughter, but she’s not dead yet, and praying that each time she comes clean she stays that way,” she said. “This (forum) is good for parents and addicts to hear.”

Keating, in his closing remarks, shared a story of when he responded to a teenager who had died from an overdose.

“To go out on a teen overdose, when you’re dealing with a parent, is heartbreaking,” Keating said. “We need to target our kids in the suburbs who go into Chicago. Those dealers are preying on our children.”



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