Tag Archives: Illinois

Heroin is ‘archenemy No. 1’ in Chicago suburbs: coroner

heroinSuburban teens have been scoring heroin on Chicago’s West Side since the 1990s, but heroin-related deaths have dramatically increased in recent years, according to this article in the Chicago Tribune, which cites statistics provided by county coroners. According to the article, experts attribute the spike to a combination of factors, including its cheap price, its availability, and the fact that syringes are no longer needed to inject the drug due to its purity, eliminating fear of needles as a deterrent.

Some of the article’s disturbing statistics:

In 2012, Lake County’s death toll reached a five-year high of 33, while heroin killed 27 people in Kane County, up from two in 2006, records show.

DuPage County’s numbers nearly doubled from 23 in 2007, the furthest its records go back, to 43 in 2012.

Heroin killed 53 Will County residents last year, more than traffic accidents and homicides combined, leading one coroner to call the drug “archenemy No. 1.”

McHenry County had 16 heroin deaths in 2012, the highest total since 2008. Cook County could not provide statistics that isolate heroin from other opiates, but the medical examiner said it remains a steady problem with an estimated one to two heroin deaths a day.

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Awareness of ‘Good Samaritan’ laws still lacking

911 dial phone callAs of March 2013, drug overdose “Good Samaritan” laws were in effect in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and were being actively considered by at least a half-dozen state legislatures. But many people are unaware of these laws, or are still fearful of being arrested if they call for help for overdose victims, anecdotal evidence shows. For example, this article out of Chicago reports that in one county, 175 people have died of heroin overdoses since 2007. In many of those cases, the article says, the victims were surrounded by people when they overdosed, but no one called 911 for help – even though Illinois passed a Good Samaritan law last year.

Good Samaritan laws typically provide immunity from drug possession charges; immunity applies to a person who seeks medical aid during an overdose (for example, by calling 911 or taking someone to the ER), and to a person having an overdose.

Even though opiate overdoses are on the rise, many people don’t call 911 out of fear of arrest and prosecution, and instead rely on ineffective methods of reviving victims.

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As Fla. pill supply dwindles, heroin sweeps East Coast

heroinfoilFlorida’s crackdown on pill mills has dried up the supply of pills to much of the East Coast, with the unintended consequence of fueling heroin abuse. As this article notes, the rise in heroin use on Cape Cod “follows a predictable course seen nationwide: when the pills disappear, heroin sweeps in.”

Between Feb. 26 and March 30, the Cape saw at least eight drug-related deaths; in the same period, police responded to another four suspected heroin overdoses in which the person was revived, the article says.

A few years ago, most cases handled by the Cape Cod Drug Task Force involved pills, but now the police estimate that as much as 95% of their caseload is heroin-related, according to the article.

The trend highlights the fallout from Florida’s efforts to turn around its reputation as the nation’s epicenter of prescription drug abuse. On the bright side, the tougher regulations resulted in the number of pill mills in the state dropping from 854 to 580 between March 2011 and March 2012, according to this article.

In that same time period, the number of inappropriate prescribers of OxyContin in Florida dropped from 98 to 11; Florida previously had the most prescribers of OxyContin in the nation, the article says.

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Chicago officials dub heroin ‘a suburban epidemic’

heroinfoilThe Chicago area has long had a problem with prescription drug abuse, and recently it’s been battling the latest incarnation of the painkiller addiction trend: heroin. The Chicago Tribune reports that heroin is no longer an inner-city issue, noting that more people die from overdose deaths than car accidents in Illinois and that it costs state taxpayers around $225 million a year to incarcerate drug offenders.

Separately last July, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that a more powerful version of heroin had made its way into the Chicago suburbs. As in other areas of the country, kids who are hooked on prescription drugs like OxyContin are turning to heroin because it’s cheaper and provides a similar high. Because of the heightened potency of today’s heroin, users need not inject the drug, but instead can smoke or snort it – making it more attractive to those who might otherwise be turned off by the fear of dirty needles.

And according to CBS Chicago, the Eisenhower Expressway has been dubbed the Heroin Highway – a drive where suburban kids can easily score the drug.

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