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Officials Targeting Will County's Rising Heroin Problem

The drug is more dangerous than ever and more people are using it; officials, meanwhile, are working on solutions.

As use appears to be rising, local officials are trying to be more vigilant in monitoring and addressing Will County’s heroin problem.

“This is an issue of tremendous concern,” said Chuck Pelkie, spokesman for Will County State Attorney Jim Glasgow. “This is no longer the junkie shooting up in a basement. High school teens have access to it and it is the drug of choice for teens from affluent families and communities.”

Fortunately, Channahon has not seen this increase and has experienced just two overdoses in the last 10 years. However, because the police department regularly receives updates on area drug trends, it is ready to meet the problem head-on, should it occur.

“It’s not been as significant as cannabis or crack cocaine,” said Channahon Deputy Police Chief Jeff Wold. “But we haven’t had any fatalities with that.”

From Jan. 1 to May 1 of this year, there were 17 heroin overdoses in Will County, as compared to 26 cases in all of 2010. Especially insidious is the fact that it’s difficult to detect heroin use by sight alone. Gone are the “track marks” that in the past had stamped a person as a heroin addict, Will County Coroner Patrick K. O’Neil said.

“These youngsters are smoking it and snorting it and not leaving any marks behind,” O’Neill said.

Heroin started making its comeback in Will County in the early to mid-1990s. In 2008, the county had 17 cases related to heroin overdoses. The following year, there were 29. Today’s heroin, O'Neil said, is especially lethal.

“This heroin coming in is pure, highly addictive and you can find it on the street for $5 or $10,” O’Neil said.

Cries for help accompany the increased use. Paul Lauridsen, clinical director of Stepping Stones Treatment and Recovery Center in Joliet, said the number of people seeking treatment for heroin addiction has dramatically increased.

In the past, only about 10 percent of Stepping Stones’ clients suffered from heroin addiction. Today, it is close to 26 percent, with the addiction affecting a broad section of the community, Lauridsen said.

The tricky part about treating heroin addiction, experts say, is that it frequently requires multiple treatments for success. Users increase their odds of a fatal overdose by combining heroin with alcohol or other medication. They also are most susceptible after stopping the drug and then restarting it.

“When they use it again, it’s an amount they were used to using,” Lauridsen said. “That alone can kill them.

charlies angel June 10, 2011 at 05:42 PM
You can learn the signs online. Learning thw signs is actually too late in the deal. Like the DARE program, personally I think that was a waste of money. It doesn't work. Take the money and hire more special agents & let's get to the root of the problem. Educating on drugs...ho hum, not effective. Limit these Dr's, find the makers & transporters of these drugs. Can it be that hard? Or is it as hard as it was finding Bin laden?
charlies angel June 10, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Also, Methodone clinics should be shut down. It's just another excuse for these people to get high. The clinic is a money maker, that is why they keep you on the drug. It just keeps you addicted. At 12 dollars a day per person and depending how long they keep you on your ride up & then eventually down, they are making a killing. I know people who have been going to those clinics in excess of over 2 yrs, no joke. let's focus on getting those dealers & a good true rehab affordable or how about making these Dr's & dealers pay for others rehab.
Anita Young June 10, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Behind every kid who gets into trouble with heroin is a parent or parents who were not paying attention or, worse yet, were in denial. Parents need to wake up and educate themselves about what is really going on. They need to have rules about alcohol and other drugs and enforce those rules with consequences at home.
Bob June 11, 2011 at 11:44 AM
It has been my experience that if the police need information they need to get their hands dirty, what I mean is they need to get out of their cars and off their bikes and talk to the people of the neighborhood, the little thinks we see every day might not seem important to me ,but it might be useful information to law enforcement. So officers the next time you drive through my subdivision how about stopping introduce yourselves or at minimal a small wave after all the majority of Channahon residents are not criminals so don't treat us like one.
geabrat June 12, 2011 at 02:14 AM
I don't know Anita, I have seen many many great parents, yet there kids still got caught up..I mean it only takes one time for a kid to try something and get hooked. There is a lot of peer pressure, kids being curious, etc. Parents have to also let their kids grow up and can't be with them 24-7. Yes, they need to know who their with, where they are, etc but all it takes is one bad choice for a kid to ruin their life FOREVER. I do agree that in many cases that is the fact "poor parenting" but I dont think I can say EVERY kid. Just a different view and opinion. LOL

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