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Chicago leads in heroin-related ER visits: A growing teen epidemic


Chicago leads the nation with heroin-related emergency room visits, just one of several troubling indicators of the growing heroin crisis in the Chicago metropolitan area since the late 90's.  In a report released on Monday, researchers from Roosevelt University cited the escalating amount of overdose death in the collar counties, a significant proportion of Cook County jail inmates testing positive for heroin, and the trending amount of users that inject the drug. 

The new users of heroin: affluent suburban teens and young adults who snort or sniff the highly addictive drug.  Once stigmatized because of its junkie connotation, many believe it has proliferated because it no longer needs to be injected.  Users eventually may turn to injection as their tolerance level increases their need.

Heroin is easily obtained in the Chicago area and is trafficked through gangs using open air drug markets.  Suburban kids with access to cars and cash frequent gang-controlled trafficking areas on the West side of Chicago, where they are welcomed and protected customers. 

North Avenue, dubbed the  "Heroin Highway"  is a common route for many of these suburbanites, with heroin-related arrests occurring at all times of the day.  The drug is sold in small amounts and its inexpensive cost adds to its popularity among high school kids and young adults.

Heroin is synthetically derived from the opium poppy.  Even upon its first use, heroin affects the central nervous system, initially producting a euphoric feeling that users continually chase.  As their tolerance level to the drug builds, heroin users need increasing amounts to get that same high.

Accidental overdose from the drug is a critical danger, even upon initial use.  Heroin is usually cut with other substances, so users have no knowledge of the purity and potency of their supply.

Did you know that heroin was first marketed by The Bayer Company in the late 1800's as a cough reliever and painkiller?


  • Kimberley Zagoren 5 years ago

    This is so scary. Parents need to get through to their teens about the dangers of drugs, especially heroin. Thanks for the informative article.

  • Nancy Z-Grand Rapids Health Examiner 5 years ago

    Very informative and scary. No amount of drug abuse prevention seems to get through to the kids (and young adults) nowadays. I guess they all think it won't happen to them, and don't realize the addictive effects of their first use of the drug.

  • Winona Cooking Examiner 5 years ago

    This is very scary. Parents and teachers need to press the issue that drugs are bad.

  • Winona Home & Living 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this informative article, more teens should know that drugs never do the body any good.

  • pepper22 5 years ago

    um your tolerance doesn't go up if you only use once or twice a month... especially if you're just snorting it.. Kids today aren't stupid and know the risks of the drug.. they also know that daily use will cause addiction

  • Tina T. - Chicago Healthy Living Examiner 5 years ago

    Pepper22: If kids today knew their limits and the risks, heroin deaths would not be rising dramatically. A user has no way of knowing what the purity of the drug or what it is cut with: meaning that a first time user can overdose.

  • April - Salt Lake City Wellness/Cat Examiner 5 years ago

    Interesting about it first being marketed by Bayer in the 1800's. I can only imagine how many things that were used back then has become an issue in this day and age.

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