Will County hosted a Heroin Summit Saturday to address the growing epidemic of the drug’s abuse.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and other county officials gathered at Prairie State College to discuss the recent spike in heroin deaths in the county.
“It is an epidemic,” said Glasgow.
In Will County alone, the number of heroin deaths in 2012 nearly doubled since 2011, spiking the drug-related number to 53 deaths.
Health officials estimated that nearly 500 revivals were also conducted throughout year.
“This is a national problem,” said Kathleen Kane-Willis of Roosevelt University. “This is not a Chicago problem, this is not just an Illinois problem.”
But Glasgow said the “party scene” in Will County is changing young perspectives of the drug.
“Kids in Will County at the party scene say if you’re tying off and shooting then you’re an addict, but if you’re snorting and you’re smoking you’re just partying,” he said. “It’s amazing how peer pressure can create a new moral code or moral standard and that’s what we’re faced with.”
The problem, officials said, lies in the changing demographic of the drug’s users.
Kane-Willis said the “face of this is different” in that it abusers are often young males and females.
“It’s not a painful death,” said Glasgow. “It’s not like getting hit by a train or a car or being shot. You just simply get sleepy and you don’t wake up, so it’s hard to scare the kids with that picture. Wagging our fingers in their faces is going to do absolutely nothing.”
Officials are working towards educating users, incorporating more drug-related programs and increasing the ability to declare a death a drug-abuse homicide.