An Overview of Addiction in Illinois
Because of its geographic location and multifaceted transportation infrastructure, Chicago is a major hub for the distribution of illegal drugs throughout Illinois and the Midwest. Heroin, cocaine and marijuana continued to be the most frequently used illicit substances in Chicago during 2013 and is the most commonly cited among primary drug treatment admissions in Illinois. New heroin users were typically young suburban residents.
Heroin continues to be the major opiate abused in the Chicago region, and many heroin-use indicators are increasing or maintaining levels that have been elevated since the mid-1990s. It ranked first as primary drug for clients entering publicly-funded drug treatment rehabs in Chicago in 2012. In Chicago, the largest increase in heroin overdoses has occurred in the suburban areas surrounding the city.
Key Substance Abuse Issues in Illinois
- The Illinois State Crime Commission says heroin use is an epidemic. In one Illinois county, heroin overdoses increased over 200 percent between 2008 and 2012. During the past three years, there have been almost a thousand heroin overdose deaths in Illinois.
- During 2012, heroin use was the most frequently reported reason for seeking drug addiction treatment in Chicago, representing 40 percent of treatment enrollments.
- The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that 45 percent of those who have used heroin had previously been dependent on prescription painkillers. Another finding was that people without health coverage are more likely to use heroin.
- Illinois enacted a “Good Samaritan” law in June 2012, which provides limited protections from prosecution for drug possession for persons seeking emergency medical assistance for themselves or other persons in response to a drug overdose.
- In Illinois, prescription medications were the number one and two leading causes of exposure-related calls to the Illinois Poison Center in 2012; 10,975 calls were about painkillers and 6,581 calls were related to sedatives, hypnotics and antipsychotics.
- State records show an average of eight people in Illinois die from prescription drug overdoses, including pain pills, every week.
- The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act was signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on August 1, 2013, and went into effect on January 1, 2014. There will be a maximum of 60 dispensaries and 21 grow sites statewide.
- Marijuana continued to be the most widely available and used illicit drug in Chicago and throughout Illinois.
- Flakka, a popular synthetic “designer drug”, has been turning up in the Chicago area. Flakka is made from a synthetic version of an ampthetamine-like stimulant and be snorted, smoked, injected, or swallowed. The high is often compared to that of PCP and includes fevers, hallucinations, and “superhuman strength” as common side effects.
- Recent research has demonstrated that a percentage of the most astounding rates of alcoholism in the country might be found in the Midwest, particularly in Illinois.
- The amount of alcohol abuse has grown exponentially, especially in the more rural areas of the state. The Midwest has been dubbed the “binge drinking belt.”
- Binge drinking is more common among young people, but when older people binge drink, they do so more often.
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