Lawmakers and Law Enforcement Warn of Growing Heroin Problem - Wandtv.com, NewsCenter17, StormCenter17, Central Illinois News-

Lawmakers and Law Enforcement Warn of Growing Heroin Problem

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Springfield - Quietly, one drug has become more threatening in Illinois than all other drugs.

"And now we're finding out that heroin is starting to overtake it as a more serious issue," reports Skokie state representative Lou Lang.

In its wake, heroin has left hundreds of families devastated.

It's those tales of heartbreak that have lawmakers and law enforcement working to educate communities that heroin use is becoming a state of emergency.

"The goal of this task force is to seek out opportunities for solutions legislatively and governmentally," said Lang.

"Our drug task forces are doing a fantastic job, and we will continue doing that.  But it is a continuing battle," added Christian County sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp.

Kettelkamp said that as drugs like methamphetamines and prescription pills become harder to get due to regulation, heroin abuse is going up while the age of the user drops.

"I have a 21 year old female in here that's addicted to heroin.  She started smoking marijuana when she was from 12 to 14 years old.  And then she went to prescription drugs from when she was 14 to 16, and then for the last couple years, she's been addicted to heroin.  I worry about our kids," said Kettelkamp.

Glen Carbon state representative Dwight Kay shared that same concern.

"High school kids, and even in some cases junior high, have availed themselves of prescription medications.  That starts them on the path of needing something a little stronger.  The younger people have become more exposed to this in the last 10 to 15 years.  And they've kind of grown into this heroin epidemic," said Kay.

With the number of heroin-related deaths going up each year, and a rising number of families impacted by this powerful drug, Kay said that now is the time to take a stand, and the time to make a change.

"I think we need to step back and we need to find out just exactly what causes this use, how it gets started.  We need to look at the toxicology of this thing.  We need to come at this hard, and we need to do it with hard evidence," Kay told WAND News.
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