The cost of heroin and the danger of using a needle to shoot it once kept many suburban teenagers away from the drug, but those barriers have fallen, leading to a rising tide of young users risking their lives with every hit, the Chicago Tribune reports. “It’s just alarming it’s spreading like it’s spreading, but I think a lot of it has to do with people putting their heads in the sand and just (thinking), ‘Oh, it can’t happen here,'” said Jack Riley, agent in charge of the Chicago office of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The DEA will be among the groups taking part in a forum Monday night to discuss teen heroin use in the suburbs and what can be done to combat it. In the last four or five years, Riley said, heroin has become cheaper and more potent. It also no longer requires the user to inject it. “That particular fact has really expanded the user base, and it’s also fostered the mentality, in my opinion, that heroin can be somewhat of a recreational drug, which it clearly is not,” he said. Much of the heroin in Chicago comes from Mexican cartels that work with local gangs. With prices as low as $10 a hit, users in the suburbs have easy access to the drug on Chicago’s West Side via what is known as the Heroin Highway — Interstates 290 and 88.