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|June 4 , 2008
Director of Communications
WOBURN DISTRICT COURT PROBATION DEPARTMENT
HOSTS SECOND ANNUAL HEAT CONFERENCE
Hundreds of law enforcement and social service professionals will converge at the Woburn Hilton for the Second Annual HEAT Conference on Friday, June 6th, which will explore ways to battle heroin addiction among young adults, 17-25. The annual HEAT (Heroin Education Awareness Treatment) Program will also feature journalist and author, Katherine Eban, who wrote “Dangerous Doses: How Counterfeiters Are Contaminating America’s Drug Supply.”
“The goal of the conference is education and treatment. The conference curriculum is tailor-made to provide information and networking resources to all professionals facing this societal dilemma of heroin addiction—from school teachers and administrators to the police to those in the therapeutic field,” said Woburn District Court Chief Probation Officer Vincent Piro, one of the HEAT Program’s founders. “We will introduce current trends in drug abuse and explain the next steps in the recovery process after detox.”
Piro added, “We want those who attend to acquire new information on how to deal with heroin addiction among young people. When we care, we can make a difference and save lives. With the knowledge gained from the conference, we can all keep digging in the trenches until a solution to this problem of addiction is found.”
The HEAT program was created by Piro and Probation Officer Michael Higgins who felt compelled to address heroin addiction among the scores of young men and women in the area. Higgins and Piro recalled that some of the young people, who came before the court, had been “three-star athletes from good families” before becoming addicted to heroin. Piro said the program is designed to target the younger addict “who would not truly benefit from treatment in a general population setting occupied by veteran drug addicts.” More than 300 young people have participated in the program since it was first introduced two years ago.
Through the HEAT Program, heroin addicts are placed in a three to seven day detoxification program which is located in a controlled environment where other “less seasoned” addicts are placed. This is followed by the 30-day HEAT stabilization program where the young addicts receive counseling and drug treatment.
There is also an educational component to HEAT where parents learn about the signs of heroin abuse and are introduced to community resources to help their children.
“It is essential to educate the public, especially parents, about the extent of heroin use and abuse among young people in their community, including their own children. There needs to be efficient and available treatment to the young population at this critical stage in their addiction,” Piro said.
HEAT also works in collaboration with CAB (Center for Addictive Behaviors)-Danvers to provide detoxification and in-patient transitional beds to those suffering with addiction.
Through another component of the program, there is a partnership with the seven local police departments. HEAT team members are detectives from police forces in the following towns: Burlington, North Reading, Reading, Stoneham, Wilmington, Winchester, and Woburn.
Last year’s first HEAT conference drew an audience of 300 court personnel and law enforcement officers, including representatives from the Philadelphia Police Department’s HEADS UP, which runs a program similar to the HEAT model.