Chicago’s New Face Of Heroin Addiction Is Young, Suburban


The Chicago Tribune visits a University of Illinois at Chicago drug clinic in a story that addresses the city’s dubious standing as having the nation’s most severe heroin problem. The clinic offers clean syringes, HIV tests and other services to those buying $10 baggies of dope on the drug-soaked streets nearby. Some of its patrons are old-timers, weary and bedraggled, their forearms misshapen with the knots and abscesses from years of shooting up. When you imagine an addict, they’re probably what comes to mind.
But most who pass through the door are startlingly young: suburban teens and 20-somethings whose dalliance with the drug quickly became a consuming obsession. After looking at hospital admissions, drug test results and overdose deaths, Roosevelt University researchers concluded that heroin abuse in the Chicago region is more extreme than anywhere else in the country. And young suburbanites are a primary reason. They say the drug is alluring because it’s cheap and easy to obtain. It’s powerful, too, wrapping users in a numbing cocoon that seems to keep their troubles far away. That, of course, is a lie.

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