Heroin Addiction, Deaths Affect All Areas of Lake County
Chicago is the No. 1 city in the country in terms of heroin traffic.
Heroin deaths have been at an all-time high in Lake County in recent years. They are so high, that some experts consider the area to have a heroin epidemic.
“You have a significant heroin problem here in Lake County,” said Kane County Undersheriff Dave Wagner, a regional expert and speaker on drug prevention at Parents You Matter, a workshop held recently at Lake Zurich High School. Wagner said heroin deaths in Lake County are out of control.
Wagner said that, when it comes to heroin, Chicago is not the second city — it is the first, the worst.
“Chicago is a major hub for heroin that comes from southeast Asia and South America,” he said.
In An Inside Look at Heroin, an online video presentation available on LCTV, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said he finds the heroin problem in Lake County to be frightening. The heroin addict of today tends to be young and suburban.
“It is unbelievable how addictive this substance is, how strong in terms of potency it is … If something isn’t done, relatively quickly, I can predict that more and more children in Lake County are going to end up this way (dead),” Curran said.
Death statistics from the Lake County Coroner’s Office show the consequences of heroin addiction:
- In 2009, Lake County had 88 deaths from substance abuse; 30 were from heroin.
- In 2010, there were 92 deaths from substance abuse; 34 were from heroin.
- In 2011, there were 84 deaths from substance abuse and 35 involved heroin.
The coroner’s office website includes maps that show where drug abuse deaths occurred. The deaths are scattered throughout the county.
Undersheriff Wagner explained that teens often start on the road to addiction right at home, by taking prescription drugs from their parents’ medicine cabinet.
“If you have a heroin problem, you have a prescription drug problem. They go hand in hand,” Wagner said.
Wagner said teens may start out with prescription drugs — particularly opiates, which are similar to heroin, thinking that they are safe because they are prescribed by a doctor. Eventually, they turn to heroin, which is much less expensive, more potent and easily obtained.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is working with the Cook County Gang Crimes Unit in an effort to stop the flow of heroin and other drugs into Lake County. The 19th Judicial Circuit Court of Lake County has a drug court, which aims to help criminals whose crimes are a result of addiction.
According to speakers at the Parents You Matter program, parents need to be aware of the drug problem and can be a key to prevention. Parents need to know as much as their kids do about drugs.
“Parents are not seeing how prevalent heroin is. Kids have a different perception … They know heroin as much as you knew marijuana,” said Michelle Hines of Lake Zurich at the Parents You Matter program.