Heroin use on the rise in parts of the Heartland

By Carly O'Keefe

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Some say it could be because meth is now tougher to get, others say drugs use is cyclical, and heroin is just the latest drug to cycle through. But one thing Jackson and Union County law enforcement officers agree on: they've never seen so much heroin in rural southern Illinois.

"Earlier in my career, we didn't see any heroin, seems like the past three to four years, we've seen quite a bit more," said Jackson County detective, Sgt. Mike O'Leary.

O'Leary is among those on the front lines of the war against drugs, but he says they're now fighting a new battle.

"Before we didn't have many heroin conspiracies," O'Leary said. "We concentrated on Meth and crack cocaine but in the last 12 months, there have been three maybe four conspiracies, heroin conspiracies that we've ultimately arrested folks on."

"We were told in meth conferences, this would follow the surge of meth and they were exactly on target," said Marcy McFadden of the Fellowship House in Anna.

McFadden is a clinical supervisor at Fellowship House in Anna, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. She sees the fallout from all sorts of addiction, but lately, she's seen more heroin addicts coming in for help.

"From the years 2007 to 2009, we had a 144% increase in the calls regarding heroin use," McFadden said.

McFadden says heroin users used to come to the Fellowship House from other areas, but recently there have been more locals looking for help.

"It seems like we started seeing it in St. Louis and central Illinois and it seems to filter down to this area."

"Indications we're getting a lot coming out of Centralia and St. Louis and being brought into the area and being dealt by lower dealers and users."

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