Police: Heroin use a growing problem in Naperville

March 13, 2012 4:57:33 AM PDT
Naperville detectives have been focusing their work on trying to stop heroin addiction, the cause of several deaths recently, with victims ranging in age from 17 to 30.

"In the past year, we had seven total that were drug related, the majority of them being heroin," said Det. Shawn Ferguson, Naperville Police Department.

Parents and children turned out Monday night to discuss the recent heroin deaths in the area.

The latest victim is 18-year-old Megan Miller. She died in January from an apparent heroin overdose.

"We do not know when she started on the heroin," said Amy Miller, Megan's mother. "I have my suspicions that it was over the summer."

Thirty people died last year of heroin overdoses in Will County. So far this year, they are on track to double that number.

"This is truly an epidemic, and this is something we have not seen before," said James Glasgow, Will County State's Attorney, who is working to educate parents. "We have to do everything we can in the trenches to make sure that parents are aware."

Nicole, a recovering addict, says she's lucky to be alive. She says it took 10 years to finally get sober.

"I'm extremely grateful that I survived it because so few do," said Nicole. "I don't think a lot of kids know what they're getting into when they step into heroin, and the reality of it is that it is just not something that is easy to kick. A lot of people do end up dead, unfortunately, if not in jail."

Doctors who treat people were heroin addictions say the drug is highly addictive

"It is really hard to stop heroin and other opiates because once you've started," said Dr. David Lott, Edward Hospital. "You can't stop without getting really sick, and so that's one of the things that makes it especially hard."

Police say heroin is cheap and very accessible. While detectives say many teenagers drive to the West Side of Chicago to get their fix, they now see a trend where the dealers are coming to Naperville.

"It is a business and people know where there is a market and hey, I can serve a customer out there, just like when you work in sales, you go where the business is. We're seeing a trend on that more," said Det. Ferguson.

Heroin is something that no one wanted to talk about in this community until recently when people realized that dying from the drug has become a reality.

Police in Naperville will have two other meetings at local high schools in April.

Experts say the Chicago area has the worst heroin problem in the country.