Heroin Task Force To Target Drug's Use Through Legislation

May 19, 2014

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  Heroin use has surged in Illinois, especially in the collar counties around Chicago. State officials are considering whether new laws are needed to stop the spread of heroin and treat addiction more effectively.

The state's heroin task force met in Springfield to hear testimony from experts on addiction.

Dr. Daniel Angres, a psychiatrist with suburban-based Presence Health, says heroin use has become more prolific because the stigma has faded.

"Where it used to be in the shadows and was primarily injected, now it's kind of chic," he said. "This is one of our most dangerous problems is the peer pressure and perception."

Angres says the trend toward snorting heroin has made using the drug more convenient. As use rises, criminal convictions have gone up.

The most vulnerable population lawmakers are worried about is young people.

That's something Dr. Celeste Napier with Rush University Medical Center, says could be problematic moving forward.

But Dr. Celeste Napier with Rush University Medical Center says she's encouraged law enforcement agencies are beginning to understand the biological roots of addiction.

"We do understand that addiction is a disease of the brain and that these are not terrible people, they are good people that have a terrible disease," she said.

She says lawmakers should educate themselves on addiction treatment and recovery.