Chicago, IL – Though the so-called “Windy City” is home to many unwanted problems lately, it has earned yet another notorious distinction. Chicago now boasts the worst heroin problem in these United States.
More troubling: No other city in the nation even comes close to Chicago in terms of heroin use.
The Chicago area registered about 24,000 ER visits related to heroin between 2008 and 2010, says a new report by the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy. To put that in perspective, New York City reported about 12,000 such visits, putting it in a distant second place.
“Heroin use has continued to increase among young, white users living outside of the city of Chicago,” said Stephanie Schmitz, co-author of the new report, in a release announcing the groups’ findings. “It is a pattern that emerged in 2000 and it has become a trend that continues to grow.”
The quote above hints that the problem of heroin use in Chicago is primarily concentrated in the city’s suburbs. The Chicago Tribune takes note of this as well, pointing to the consortium’s report that cites a spike in fatal overdoses outside of the city itself. The paper does show some signs of hope regarding Chicago’s crippling heroin problem, namely, a new Good Samaritan law that gives heroin users partial immunity for calling 911 one behalf of someone who is overdosing on the drug.
“People often say that anger is a negative emotion–I disagree,” said Marilee Murphy Odendahl, an activist affiliated with Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing (GRASP). “It seems to me that the most logical response to losing someone you love to overdose is anger. Anger is the natural response. Death by overdose is preventable. To watch statistics rise every year should make you angry. Tonight I would challenge you to channel your anger as a catalyst for your involvement in the solution.”
Do you live in or near Chicago? Does the national heroin use report surprise you?