Heroin appears to have claimed the life of another young person in Naperville, police said.
Just days after losing their son, the family of 20-year-old John C. Kacena already is looking to help other parents whose children are struggling with addiction, a growing problem in the suburbs.
“I’m hoping John was well-loved enough maybe his death will help start making an impact in Naperville,” mother Caroline Kacena said.
Police were called to Kacena’s home in the 2200 block of Flambeau Drive about 8:13 a.m. Monday for a possible overdose, according to Sgt. Gregg Bell. An officer assisted Caroline Kacena in performing CPR on her son, but they were unable to revive him, and he was pronounced dead shortly after.
Toxicology results are pending for John Kacena, a 2010 Neuqua Valley High School graduate, but police and the man’s family suspect a heroin overdose.
Bell said there was “drug paraphernalia located in the room that is commonly used in the abuse of heroin” and Caroline Kacena said her son had been battling addiction.
In December 2011, John Kacena was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance. Caroline Kacena learned her son had grown addicted to heroin after months of an acquaintance lacing his marijuana with the powerful narcotic without his knowledge.
She said she has been overwhelmed by the support from family, friends and the community in the wake of her son’s death.
“He was very outgoing and had many different groups of friends and seemed to have touched a lot of lives,” she said. “A lot more lives than I even realized.”
Kacena would be the second person to die of a heroin overdose in Naperville this year. Megan Miller died in late January. Another five people in Naperville overdosed through June this year, but survived, according to police. Last year, the drug claimed the lives of six people in the western suburb, including two teenagers.
The deaths shone a light on the growing trend of heroin use among young people in the suburbs and sparked half a dozen area forums in recent months aimed at educating families about the drug’s growing popularity and its dangers. Authorities say it is cheaper and more potent than it used to be.
Caroline Kacena commended police for working to get the word out in recent months, but said for too long heroin has been a “silent epidemic.” Like many parents, she said she was embarrassed by her son’s drug use and felt alone as she tried to research the best ways to help him.
She now hopes to start a parents group to help educate families about the dangers of heroin, signs of addiction and the resources available to them.
“I also want to give parents who have lost their kids a chance to connect with other parents who have lost their kids because I think together we can support each other,” she said. “And also we can honor our children’s lives by trying to help other parents not to have to deal with it.”
John Kacena also is survived by his father, John, and sister, Lindsey. Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 44 S. Mill Street, Naperville, with services following at 8 p.m. Interment is private.