Heroin Use Continuing to Rise in our Area - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Heroin Use Continuing to Rise in our Area

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Heroin use is continuing to rise in the Quad Cities. Local experts say there has been a steady increase in heroin cases in just the past six months. Quad City MEG Agents say people are taking what they call the heroin highway, or I-88 corridor, to the west side of Chicago, and bringing heroin from there back to the Quad Cities on a daily basis. Several local drug counseling agencies say the number of people coming in for heroin addiction has also gone up.

"In the last six months, seen maybe ten, where we might have seen none, so that's a big increase," said Arthur Gillen, Director of the Riverside Outpatient Program.

Gillen has been helping people with addiction for the past 20 years and he says recently there's been a resurgence in those dependent on heroin.

"It used to be an old mans drug, if you will, somebody that wasn't any younger than 25, now its 17 to 25."

Quad City MEG Director Kevin Winslow says heroin has become more attractive to younger people, because the new stuff has a higher purity level and can be sniffed. People addicted to prescription drugs have also turned to it, because it has become so easy to get and can give them a similar high. He says right now his agents are working several cases. Some of which they hope to further with federal charges.

 "Our agents over the last three months have opened more heroin cases this quarter than in the previous year," Winslow said.

Winslow says Quad City MEG has been collaborating with other agencies more than ever, pooling resources to fight the problem. He says if they don't, it will only lead to other crimes.

"Once a user gets to the point where they are ingesting and consuming large amounts of heroin, they have to continue to feed that habit. That's where the associated crimes come into play. We have seen that documented with daytime robberies, thefts of scrap, break-ins and assaults."

 Winslow says heroin overdose deaths have also gone up as a result of the increased use. Meanwhile, drug counselors say while they have seen a spike in the number of people coming in for addiction, they expect there are many more people out there. They say heroin users usually wait longer to seek treatment compared to other addicts.

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