Heroin deaths nearly triple since 2010

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For years, many communities in the Chicago area have sounded the alarm that heroin use is on the rise.

Now a new report by the Centers For Disease Control underscores the growing problem of heroin . Heroin-related deaths have nearly tripled since 2010.

Tim Ryan knows the truth of those statistics all too well. His son, Nick died from a heroin overdose last year at the age of 20.

"I was part of the problem," Ryan says. "I led my son down that road."

Ryan is recovering from heroin addiction. He says his son has come to symbolize the stereotypical heroin addict: a young, white, Midwestern male.

Kyle Simari, 18, is another recovering addict who fits the type. The Naperville native first started using the drug three years ago with friends.

"It eventually led to me going to class high every day, every period," Simari says.

Since then, Simari has lost four friends to overdoses and joins Ryan in calling for a more affordable and accessible supply of Narcan, an overdose reversal medication.

Ryan, who works full time getting treatment for addicts and educating families about addiction has trained parents how to administer a the medicine.

"More people need it," Ryan says. "Unfortunately, the price is going through the roof. It's harder for small non-profits like my own to help get these products."

Illinois lawmakers have introduced a comprehensive plan to curb heroin use and overdose deaths, which includes a proposal to give Narcan to all first responders.

The bill's sponsors say heroin use is at epidemic proportions.

"Heroin is now far more potent," says Rep. Lou Lang from Skokie. "You can get high for $5."

Tim Ryan helped organize an anti-heroin forum next Tuesday in Kane County where families will learn more information about the issue and find solutions to the problem.

For more information on Ryan's work, visit www.amaninrecovery.org.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.