HINSDALE, Ill. (CBS) – It’s an alarming spike; the number of people being arrested for heroin in DuPage County were up 700 percent last year.
At the same time, researchers might have uncovered a link – something almost all heroin addicts share.
CBS 2′s Dana Kozlov reports on a warning sign that your teen may be headed for heroin abuse.
Brenda Hruby Giesel’s nephew, Reed Hruby, was a fresh-faced 24-year-old when he died of a heroin overdose – after going through rehab and after seeing eleven of his young friends die the same way.
“He was articulate, he was beautiful and he was a heroin addict,” Geisel said. “It rips the family apart, it really does. After his death, I went on a crusade.”
That crusade ultimately prompted the Hruby family to donate more than $250,000 to the Robert Crown Health Center in Hinsdale.
Their goal was to benefit a heroin prevention program to stop the rise of heroin use among teenagers – which is especially alarming in DuPage County and towns like Naperville, where Reed was from.
“All of a sudden, we’re seeing kids die. Naperville’s had quite a few deaths (more than a dozen) that nobody’s talking about,” said Robert Crown Health Center CEO Kathleen Burke.
Burke also said that heroin-related arrests in DuPage County alone were up 700 percent from 2009 to 2010.
“These are absolutely astounding statistics,” she said.
If that’s not a big enough concern, Drexel University researchers recently found four out of five heroin users abused prescription painkillers first.
Addiction experts say it’s a predictable road.
“The same pathways that elicit drug use – like heroin – takes in the brain is the same pathways that prescription pain medication takes,” said Dr. Dan Lustig, vice president of the Haymaker Center, an alcohol and drug treatment program.
Lustig said that problem is especially prevalent in households that normalize prescription painkiller use.
So, what should parents watch for? We’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating – personality changes, weight loss, new friends and erratic behavior could all be signs of a problem.