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Our Chicago suburbs and communities all over Illinois have been invaded by an epidemic of heroin abuse, targeting our young people. Hundreds have died already. We have to halt this insidious drug from taking more precious lives. Here are some ideas that I would like to share as a Hearts of Hope representative.

• If we are going to reduce the number of kids trying prescription drugs and heroin for the first time, we need to rebuild the prevention infrastructure in our country. In recent years, the programs to fund prevention in school and through the media have been eliminated. The block grant to states for prevention work is in serious jeopardy of being watered down so that it will no longer fund drug-specific programming. We know that states like Illinois and communities are strapped financially so they are not going to be able to fill the enormous gap that has been left as federal programs have been eliminated.

• While we see the need for fiscal restraint in this economy, cutting prevention is penny wise and pound foolish. Preventing drug abuse is far more cost effective than dealing with the effects of untreated addiction (which costs our nation $500 billion each year).

• We would like to see you become more involved in drug policy. A few easy steps you could take would be to join the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse as well as the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus.

• We would also like to see you join with Hearts of Hope and the Partnership at Drugfree.org to help bring attention to the heroin and prescription drug problems in your district. The Partnership has a number of Department of Justice-funded community presentations that you and your staff could deliver at community meetings. You could work the issue into your legislative agenda, meet with law enforcement, treatment and prevention professionals in the area to learn more and become an advocate for parents who have a child struggling with addiction. We need your help, we need your support, we need you! This is a preventable disease. Together we all can make a difference one life at a time. Thank you for your time, consideration and service. Sincerely,

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