Heroin Awareness Summit Attempts to Combat the Drug Problem

MACHESNEY PARK – Heroin addiction and overdoses have plagued the Stateline for years now. That's why raising awareness about the drug and fighting back was the focus of a forum at a local high school Wednesday night.
MACHESNEY PARK – A group at Harlem High School learns that nearly 200 people have died from heroin overdoses in the past 3 years in Winnebago County alone.  State Representative John Cabello says, “That's huge. That's more than the homicides and fatal crashes put together."

So he organized the first heroin awareness summit at Harlem High School to show Stateliners how widespread the problem has become. He says, “It doesn't matter if you're rich. It doesn't matter if you're poor. It doesn't matter if you're a teenager. And it doesn't matter if you're a middle-aged person. Heroin affects everybody."

But just how easy is it for people to get their hands on the deadly drug? Pat Spangler works at the Rosecrance Rehab facility.  “In rockford? Easy. The epicenter--one of the main epicenters for heroine is Chicago, of course. It's a main transportation hub, it's a major city."

According to Spangler, the drugs quickly spread down the interstate to Rockford making heroin cheap and easily accessible.  He says, “Now it's almost socially approved of in some circles.  So, it's not only not looked down upon, but sometimes it's encouraged."

Rosecrance has an 85% success rate but Spangler continues to see patients at an alarming rate: “I think some people believe that if they just turn a blind eye, this problem will go away and statistics show it is not going to. It continues to rise. It's going to continue to rear its head until the community starts to push back."

Representative Cabello plans on having another summit in the following months. There, previous addicts will come forward and share their stories on how they were effected by heroin.
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