Heroin Epidemic Continues to Plague Illinois

Joliet heroin attorneyAccording to the most recent numbers from the federal government, fatal drug overdoses hit an all-time high in 2014, claiming the lives of more than 47,000 Americans. The number is even more staggering when you consider how much time, energy, and money has been spent on awareness campaigns and addiction treatment over the last several decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to release the numbers for 2015, but few are expecting a significant decrease, meaning that tens of thousands more died due to drug overdose last year. As Illinois continues to compile its statistics for 2015, there is growing concern over the resurgence of serious heroin problem, much of it centered around the greater Chicago area.

Provisional Numbers

In 2014, there were approximately 1,700 drug overdose deaths reported in the state of Illinois. Of that number, about 42 percent, or 711, were related to heroin. Reports released earlier this month place the number of heroin-related overdose fatalities in the state at 692, with many investigations still ongoing and causes of death still to be determined. This seems to be in keeping with a terrible nationwide trend which has seen deaths related to heroin use triple in just the last four years. Government officials cite the drug’s increased availability and relative affordability as the primary factors contributing to the marked uptick in its use and abuse.

Localized Concerns

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that nearly half of all deaths involving heroin use in Illinois are occurring in a single county. In 2014, there were 321 heroin-related fatalities in Cook County alone, and thus far, another 283 have already been reported for 2015. The problem extends into the Chicago suburbs as well, with Will County reporting more 56 deaths in 2015, up from 37 in 2014.

There is also a great deal of trepidation over the impact that the ongoing state budget impasse will have in 2016. Many outreach programs and addiction support resources have been forced to reduce services or shut down altogether due to a lack of state funding. This is leading many to believe that the lack of available programs could lead to even larger numbers of fatalities this year.

Heroin-Related Legal Problems?

In addition to the physical dangers that the drug presents, heroin possession is also an extremely serious criminal allegation. A conviction could follow you for the rest of your life and severely limit your future opportunities. If you have been charged any type of heroin-related offense, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney right away. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.