New Study Reveals Chicago Heroin Crisis

A Chicago-area study found that heroin use is at epidemic proportions in the region, with emergency rooms seeing more heroin-related visits by suburban teens, the Chicago Tribune reported March 29.

The eight-month study, conducted by researchers at Roosevelt University in Chicago, found that more people visited Chicago-area emergency rooms for heroin use compared with other metropolitan areas. In 2002, federal statistics showed that the Chicago area had 12,982 heroin-related emergency-room visits, the most in the nation for the fifth consecutive year.

Kathleen Kane-Willis, a researcher at Roosevelt's Institute for Metropolitan Affairs, said her study found that heroin users in the city are mainly minorities and older, while those in the suburbs are white and younger.

The study also showed that the number of teens from suburban Cook County entering drug-treatment facilities for heroin more than quadrupled between 1995 and 2002. On the other hand, treatment admissions among teens living in the city declined during the same time period.

"Parents need to be educated about this," said Kane-Willis. "They need to know what the signs of use and addiction are. We need to do more research on the new heroin generation to know where their first use is occurring, where they're buying, how they support their habits."


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