Heroin use in Chicago and surrounding suburbs has continued to escalate.  Heroin is an extremely addictive opioid drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as “black tar heroin.”

Heroin Use

Heroin can be (1) injected, (2) inhaled by snorting or sniffing, or (3) smoked. All three routes of administration deliver the drug to the brain very rapidly, which contributes to its health risks and to its high risk for addiction.  Repeated use of heroin causes changes in the brain, which frequently leads to uncontrollable drug-seeking no matter what consequences may occur.  For some people, heroin addiction begins after they are prescribed opiate pain drugs, but start misusing them.

Heroin Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms begin 6 to 12 hours after the last use, peaking within 1 to 3 days, and gradually subsiding over 5 to 7 days. However, some heroin users experience weeks or months or years of withdrawal symptoms.

Heroin Effects:

  • The heroin “rush” is usually accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and heavy feeling extremities.  It may also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and severe itching.
  • After the initial rush, abusers often feel drowsy for several hours. Mental function is clouded by heroin's effect on the central nervous system. Heart rate slows. Breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes to the point of death. Heroin overdose is a particular risk because the amount and purity of the drug is not accurately known.
  • While using heroin and during withdrawal, the heroin user may experience:
    • Cravings
    • Mood Changes
    • Aches and Pains
    • Excessive Bodily Fluids
    • Diarrhea and Stomach Pain
    • Nausea and Vomiting
    • Fever
    • Restlessness
    • Sleep Problems
    • High risk of infections, such as HIV/AIDS
    • Collapsed veins
    • Infection of the heart lining and valves
    • Liver disease

Chicago Heroin Facts:

  • Heroin production and availability has grown significantly in the past decade. Reports from the National Drug Intelligence Center show larger yields from Mexico have led to purer, less expensive and more abundant supply heroin within the U.S.
  • In Chicago, nearly all heroin comes from Mexico via the Mexican drug cartels and is being distributed by Chicago street gangs, in what the DEA calls “the Perfect Storm”
  • For the past several years, Chicago has ranked first in the nation for heroin overdose emergency room visits.  Chicago heroin related visits are nearly double those of NYC and significantly more than 2nd ranked Boston.
  • From 2007-2011, mortality overdose/deaths increased by 115% in Lake County, IL, 100% in Will County, IL, and 50% in McHenry County, IL.
  • Heroin use in Illinois among white teenagers under the age of 18 has increased by 22%.

At New Hope Recovery Center, we have seen the increased use of heroin among Chicago area young adults first hand.  If you know someone who is using heroin, urge them to get help before it is too late for them.  You can contact us at 800-707-4673 or info@new-hope-recovery.com.

You may also be interested in reading other information about heroin use and addiction:

Heroin Abuse Warning Signs  Sadly heroin use has increased all over the US, including in Chicagoland area. How can you tell if someone you love is abusing heroin?  Look for these warning signs...

New Hope Recovery Center Review: Client Success Story When I first got to New Hope Recovery Center, I was no stranger to treatment. I had several attempts with inpatient treatment centers and detox units. At the time I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be sober, I know I needed to be though. New Hope Recovery Center is where I learned “to want it.” At only 21 years old I was a daily heroin user and an alcoholic, I was not hirable and had burned up all but a few bridges with my family and ...

America's Failed Drug Policy The above Documentary: The House I Live In really pushes Americans to think about how we need to change our strategy when fighting the “War on Drugs.” Recently, Roosevelt University hosted the Third Annual Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy.  This year, the three main panels concentrated on (1) the opiate (heroin) epidemic in the Chicago area, (2) the potential Naloxone (an opiate antagonist that can reverse the effects of opiates) has to prevent overdose deaths and save lives, and (3) the future of drug policy in the United States...

Parents' Guide to Prevent Heroin Use and Addiction We previously discussed Chicago’s heroin epidemic and saw that the rapid increase in young adults becoming addicted to heroin is truly startling. There are steps that parents can take to prevent their loved ones from becoming a sad statistic of the heroin epidemic...

Chicago's Heroin Epidemic - Parents Beware As an addiction treatment center in Lincoln Park, Chicago, we see trends in addiction first hand.  Although all addictions are heartbreaking, nothing has touched us as deeply as the current heroin epidemic among young people.  We have seen young adults in their late teens and early twenties struggling to recover from one of the most dangerous, addictive and life-threatening drugs.  It is a hard struggle – for both the addicts and their families...

Heroin (opiate) Addiction - Suboxone vs. Vivitrol Medication-assisted treatment for addiction, especially opiates (such as Heroin, Vicodin, and Oxycontin), is not new nor is the controversy that accompanies it.  The most recent controversy involves the use of medications to aid in the treatment of opiate addiction, with Suboxone and Vivitrol receiving the most press.  There is an abundant amount of information available on the internet – unfortunately not all of it is accurate...

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center