Heroin a growing problem in Southern Illinois - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Heroin a growing problem in Southern Illinois

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) -

Heroin use is becoming a growing problem nationwide.

Investigators in Dupage County, Illinois say they've responded to 15 heroin overdose deaths in just a 17 day period.

Now, law enforcement across the state are stepping up their efforts to battle the issue.

According to a coordinator with the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group who wants to remain anonymous, southern Illinois in particular is being impacted by this growing trend.

He says it's a problem that isn't just affecting the drug user, but the entire community.

And he says more than ever it's important that hospitals, schools and the community all need to know what's going on outside their doors.

"What you end up doing is having a situation where everybody is in the fight now, it's not just the police because it is not just the police problem," he said.

He says the southern Illinois region is different in that the drug can come from St. Louis, Chicago and Evansville, making it difficult for law enforcement to do their job.

"As a consequence it's difficult to say we are going to stop this particular distribution system and it's going to quit, it's not. It is a matter of opportunity. Get in to the distribution system and try to disrupt it," he said.

Heroin use is a problem drug counselors say is on the rise in our area.

People at The H-Group say they treat double the number of heroin addicts than they did last year.

"We look at it as an equal opportunist; it does not discriminate against anyone. Not age, gender, ethnicity," said Melissa Pappas, a counselor with The H-Group.

She says it is an epidemic that needs to be confronted head on.

"It's everywhere and we cannot just ignore it we really have to try and tackle it," she said.

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