Task Force Sounds Alarm About Heroin Use by Young People

Chicago, collar counties report jump in heroin-related deaths from 2011-2012

In an effort to fight heroin abuse, state lawmakers will urge more education, particularly aimed at high school students, and will push to get unused prescription drugs out of people's homes, according to a draft of a report obtained Monday by NBC Chicago.

Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Round Lake Beach) chairs the Young Adult Heroin Task Force, which published the report that aimed to get a better understanding of heroin use and abuse among young people.

"This is definitely an epidemic," he said. "You can snort it. You can smoke it. You can, in some cases, ingest it, so kids don't feel this is a dangerous type of drug."

But it is dangerous. Today's heroin is potent, highly addictive, and deadly.

According to the report, heroin-related deaths in DuPage County increased from 26 to 42 between 2011 and 2012. In Will County, deaths increased from 30 to 53 during the same time period. McHenry County saw 16 deaths, up from 9, and Kane County saw 27 deaths, up from nine.

"Instantly, one hit could kill a kid, and it is much problematic than what we see from alcohol abuse and other drug abuse because it is so addictive and it is so deadly," said Yingling.

The report said many young people begin their drug abuse using leftover medications. They become dependent and then seek additional medication. Many move on to heroin, which is readily available and inexpensive, the report said.

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