Heroin problem growing in Central Illinois

By Alyssa Donovan

April 9, 2013 Updated Apr 9, 2013 at 7:05 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill.--This past week Peoria police reported 3 deaths, in 2 days as a result of drugs including heroin.

Heroin is gaining popularity among teens and young adults. But the dangers of the drug are being overlooked.

Peoria police recently reported 3 heroin related deaths in just 2 days.

Counselor Jeff Dodson at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery says the availability and the price add to the addictive qualities.

Dodson said, "There are a lot of drugs that have more potential for abuse than other drugs and heroin is by far a very high potential abuse drug."

Peoria Police Captain Mike Scally says the drug addiction can lead to more problems.

Scally said, "Basically what your heroin hikes will do is go out and make crime to get that 10 dollars for that next high."

He says part of the danger is not knowing what is in the drug. It may be cut with products that are lethal.

OSF St. Francis Medical Center Dr. Leon Yeh M.D. says there have been 130 visits to the Emergency room for various drug related complaints just this year.

Yeh said, “True numbers are probably under reported due to stigma or concern about incarceration."

But Peoria is not the only city dealing with the problem.

Yeh said, "In all of Central Illinois we have a massive problem with the use of heroin and prescription pain killers."

Yeh says there are steps that can be taken to bring down the problem.

Yeh said, "Some things that law makers can do is not only impose stricter penalties to people who distribute but also provide resources for substance abuse treatment."

Captain Scally says the department does have vice and narcotics investigators actively working on the problem.