Jordan Michael Filler died of a heroin overdose at age 23, but his legacy will live on in the Chicago area’s first comprehensive substance abuse program for teens and youth embedded in a medical setting.
Before his energy, enthusiasm and finally his life were destroyed by heroin, Jordan Michael Filler was a generous and loyal friend, a loving big brother to three younger sisters, an idealistic teenager who dreamed of curing cancer. Jordan died of a heroin overdose at age 23, but his legacy will live on in the Chicago area's first comprehensive substance abuse program for teens and youth embedded in a medical setting. The program, based within Lurie Children's Division of Adolescent Medicine, is made possible through a generous gift from the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation.
"By establishing this program at Lurie Children's, we hope no Chicago-area family suffers the loss of a child to substance abuse," said Julie and Mark Filler, Jordan's parents. "Struggling with our son's addiction was heartbreaking, and was made worse by not having a local place to turn to for complete care. With this gift, we hope to enable the team at Lurie Children's to begin saving lives, families and futures."
When it opens in 2018, the new substance abuse program will address the full spectrum of care, from prevention to early intervention and treatment. Providing a range of services, including education, intervention, therapy for substance use and linkage to community resources, the program offers the full range of medical and mental health services, as well as parent support groups and peer-led groups.
"We have a mission to care for young people who might otherwise fall through the cracks or have difficulty accessing care," said Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH, head of Lurie Children's Division of Adolescent Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Substance use and abuse too often occurs in the shadows, and we hope our program is an important step in making sure teenagers at all points on the substance abuse spectrum get the care that they deserve to lead healthy and productive lives. The Filler's gift allows us to take a critical next step forward."
The Jordan Michael Filler Foundation supports programs for the prevention, treatment, and education of youth and young adults on the nature and dangers of drug abuse, and opioid addictions in particular. In the last year, the organization has funded the purchase of over 3,500 doses of the overdose reversal medication Naloxone for Lake County first responders, saving more than 147 lives, and has provided much-needed financial support for Chicago's new opioid treatment initiative.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Heroes magazine.