It’s one of the most addictive and deadliest drugs out on the streets: heroin. As many as 50% of heroin addicts die from overdosing.
Still, the intense high it produces often entices teenagers and young adults to try it.
“In our community we have kids that have access to money, access to cars, and the typical teenage thing you always hear about is they start using drugs recreationally, looking for some cheap thrills,” said Commander Louis Cammiso.
As someone continues using heroin, the chemical makeup within the brain changes, creating an uncontrollable dependence.
This year, DuPage County had a record number of heroin-related deaths with at least 42, plus another 28 in Will County.
“We do autopsies on every person that dies of a heroin overdose and their bodies are physically ravaged by the drug abuse and the lack of eating properly and lack of taking care of one’s self so its a very destructive process and ultimately the worse part is it comes to our morgue and the person is dead,” said DuPage County Coroner, Richard Jorgensen.
A number of grassroots efforts have began over the past year to address the heroin problem.
The not-for-profit kids matter has started a branch-off program called “ParentsMatter too”, connecting parents with tools to help their kids facing drug problems and other issues like depression and bullying.
“All kids face trouble. Some kids have the ability to problem solve, to think clearly, and make good decisions and as parents, we can help build those skills within our kids,” said Diane Overguard, the program’s coordinator.
360 Youth Services also launched a website in response to the heroin abuse called “The Power of Choice.”
“If you go to the resource page, there’s all kinds of resources from “how do you get rid of prescription drugs that are no longer being used, and what to do with people in recovery and the gambit in between,” said Sandy Stelmach, Consultant for School District 203.
Naperville North High School has also hired a Dean of Interventions to work exclusively with students involved in drug use.
The DuPage County Board also approved transferring $50,000 from the sheriff’s department’s budget to use for educating the public on heroin.
The money will be allocated to various groups throughout the county that help fight drug use, including the regional department of education, churches and community not-for-profits.
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