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News (Media Awareness Project) - US IL: Officials Call For Plan To Combat Heroin Overdoses
Title:US IL: Officials Call For Plan To Combat Heroin Overdoses
Published On:2012-01-30
Source:Lake County News-Sun (IL)
Fetched On:2012-02-02 06:03:20

Mounting heroin use and deaths in Lake County and
the Chicago suburbs needs to be addressed through prevention and education.

U.S. Rep. Robert Dold, R-Kenilworth, held a
roundtable discussion Monday on the rise of
heroin use, especially in suburban areas =AD an
issue that has been on the radar in Lake County
since overdose cases started increasing in 2007.

We need to get on the same page and have a
cohesive plan,=94 said Dold, =93and get more parents involved.=94

Sheriff Mark Curran said the roundtable was the
first step to forming a task force on the topic of heroin overdoses.

Back in 2010, Roosevelt University and the
Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy released a
report that showed more people in Chicago and its
suburbs were admitted to hospital emergency rooms
for heroin overdoses than any other major city
and it is the most common illegal substance for
which people enter drug treatment programs.

One of the roundtable participants was Kathleen
Burke, chief executive officer of the Robert
Crown Centers for Health Education in west suburban Hinsdale.

She said the study by Roosevelt, which recently
released a study on suburban heroin users, showed
that suburban heroin users are usually young
white males, had little knowledge about the drug
when they first used it or of its effects after
short term use. The study also revealed users
often substituted heroin after becoming addicted
to prescription pain medications or used it to come down from cocaine highs.

Heroin today is so strong that addicts don't need
to boil it down to remove impurities and then
inject the drug. Now you can snort it or smoke it
because it is so pure. Lake County Coroner Artis
Yancey says this makes doing the drug a form of Russian roulette.

It's the luck of the draw. They could die their
first time or (10th time). Overdosing could
happen at anytime. We're definitely seeing that,=94 said Yancey.

A surprising aspect of the study found that a
majority of interviewees reported little or no
knowledge about heroin dependence or the
withdrawal symptoms associated with it.
Seventy-five percent of the respondents reported
signs of mental health issues, including
depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD or sensation-seeking behaviors.

This research confirms our theory that successful
heroin prevention and education efforts must be
comprehensive and acknowledge the pain or
dysfunction young people are trying to escape
through drug use,=94 said Burke, adding that drug
educators use neuroscience to teach teenagers
about how addictive it is and what it does to the brain.

Kids are smart and make sense of that,=94 she said.
By lumping all drugs together without focusing in
on more dangerous drugs isn't effective. Her
group has started a three-year heroin prevention
initiative that focuses on sequencing education
through grade levels, using authentic messengers
such as past addicts of surviving family members,
and having the same quality materials distributed to everyone.

She said this is not all on the schools, but
should include police, health departments and the
courts. Recent cuts in mental health funding by
the state could make matters worse.

Another byproduct of the addictions are the
increase in home and vehicle burglaries and
retail thefts. Lake County Sheriff's Chief of
Operations Dave Godlewski said police can take
one crew off the street and another takes their
place. Nearly all are doing it to fund their addictions.

Lake County Sheriff's Office Cmdr. Wayne Hunter
said there is a drug court in Lake County, and
the county jail is served by a number of programs
from the outside, like 12-step programs, and
through the Lake County Health Department.

The drug court program currently is at capacity
with 13 or 14 active cases stretching resources to the limit.


Heroin deaths

Deaths from heroin or a combination of heroin and
another drug in Lake County increased from 13 in
2007 to 30 in 2008; 30 in 2009; 35 in 2010; and 34 in 2011.

Overall deaths due to drug abuse of heroin and
other substances like alcohol, cocaine and
prescription drugs, have increased every year since 1998.

The total substance abuse death toll was 81 in
2007; 81 in 2008; 88 in 2009; 92 in 2010; and 86 in 2011.

Source: Lake County Sheriff's Office
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