Cory Monteith's overdose highlights rising heroin deaths in Chicago

July 17, 2013 4:46:46 PM PDT
The weekend death of "Glee" star Cory Monteith was caused by heroin and alcohol use and further highlights the dangers of heroin use in Chicago.

In Will County, police say the number of heroin deaths are on the rise and have surpassed the number of those killed by traffic accidents.

Cory Monteith seemingly had it all: fame, money, and love. But behind the matinee looks and golden voice, was a darker role Bill Patrianakos of New Lenox knows too well.

"There's times that you know you're destroying your life, and you want to stop, and you're trying really hard. But the drug takes over," said Bill Patrianakos, former heroin addict.

Like many current and former users, Patrianakos is from the suburbs and was in college on the road to success when heroin became his life.

He was hooked for years, unable to shake the addiction even after surviving two overdoses.

"I was always a smart kid. And as a smart kid, you think you can outsmart it," said Patrianakos.

The coroner says Monteith died after combining heroin and alcohol. His body was discovered last weekend in his Vancouver hotel room.

The 31-year-old star of "Glee" had sought help in rehab as recently as a few months ago.

"Getting out of treatment and overdosing is a very common phenomenon. . .The highest risk of overdose is actually after you lose your tolerance," said Prof. Kathleen Kane-Willis, Roosevelt University.

It's believed Monteith may have purchased the heroin from a Vancouver open air drug market, not unlike those on Chicago's West Side, where buyers are seen lining up to purchase heroin in broad daylight.

Here, the drug is sold by Chicago street gangs, but it's supplied by powerful Mexican drug cartels, which are now the target of federal authorities.

"Whether they're here in the city or they're in Mexico or in Central and South America, it's our job to eliminate the command and control and make sure the organizations cease to exist," said Jack Riley, special-agent-in-charge, Chicago DEA.

Monteith often spoke of his addiction. His battle with drugs started at 13, the age of many of his fans.

The Robert Crown Center in Hinsdale has a heroin education program in several middle schools, hoping to reach kids at an impressionable age.

"In heroin, it seems to be starting in high school and moves into young adult, and that's why you see so many young adult deaths," said Kathleen Burke, CEO, Robert Crown Center.

Former addict Patrianakos has been clean for over 4 years. He finally quit after being arrested for attempting to counterfeit money to finance his heroin use, and considers himself lucky to be alive.

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