Study: Heroin Users Don’t Know Drug’s Risks

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (CBS) — Heroin used to be a blight confined to urban areas, but no longer. Heroin’s deadly reach extends to the suburbs and beyond.

As CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports, experts, educators and parents gathered in Downers Grove on Tuesday to discuss how to deal with a growing problem,

At a forum Tuesday night at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, officials unveiled a new study that showed heroin users don’t know the risks associated with the drug. The study, funded by the Robert Crown Health Education Center, was part of the center’s Heroin Prevention Project.

John Roberts, a retired Chicago Police captain, lost his son Billy to a heroin overdose nine years ago at the age of 19. His son was alone at their house in Homer Glen when it happened.

“He made the mistake of thinking he could handle it,” Roberts said. He had moved his family to Homer Glen to escape city crime.

“What I walked into is a terrible problem that’s occurring in all of our collar counties,” Roberts said.

He was on hand Tuesday night as a new study of suburban heroin users was unveiled at a forum in Downers Grove. The study suggested that most young users began by using prescription painkillers.

Kathie Kane-Willis, the study’s chief researcher said most addicts did not understand what they were getting into and that heroin is so powerful that, once they were hooked, they didn’t care.

She quoted one user as saying, “I found going to the West Side exciting. It was a thrill. The chance was that you could get caught, but the reward was that you got your dope.”

The study also said – and Roberts agreed – that school drug programs need to hammer away specifically at the dangers of heroin and how it is deadlier than other drugs.

Rogers remembered the frantic drive to save Billy after his overdose.

“I left Homer Glen. I was already at 111th and Roberts Road and a fire paramedic took the phone from the young man I was speaking to and told me ‘You’ve lost your son,’” Roberts said, adding that he didn’t believe the paramedic at first.

Roberts said he now devotes his entire life to educating young people and their parents about heroin. He said he knows it’s an uphill fight, but it’s one worth fighting.

  • Traci

    Error in your reporting. They were at Robert Crown discussing this issue. Robert Crown is in Hinsdale…not Downers Grove!

    • John Dodge

      Hi Traci–

      The study was unveiled at an event at Midwestern University in Downers Grove. The study was funded by the Robert Crown Center. We have fixed the story. Thanks for your comment

    • Scott Hernandez

      “John Roberts, a retired Chicago Police captain” – says it all. Who cares if geograhy was incorrect.

      • Traci

        The guys name is John Roberts but the issue was being discussed at Robert Crown in Hinsdale! I was saying that Robert Crown is in Hinsdale, not Downers Grove as reported in the article.

  • NWA

    Not just in da hood no mo, huh?


  • Chi-Burbanite

    Really!!!! Drugs are in the suburbs!!!!! Wow, this is news. Imagine, suburbanites doing drugs – especially heroin. I grew up in the ‘burbs and moved to the city and back to the ‘burbs. There was no difference in how easy it was to score whatever I wanted on the drug scene.

    Those people sitting in the audience seemed lost about the reality of what drugs HAS DONE to our children. Wake up people, this $hit is everywhere and can affect anyone at anytime.

  • Scott Hernandez

    Yes, drugs hitting white suburbia is BIG news when they belong in Chicago with those “other” people.

  • other people

    what do you mean idiot.

  • other people

    what do you mean other people. Idiog.

    • Shataniana

      I believe “Other People”, refers to black Afro-Americans. They are involved much more with drugs and crime in general. What is, Idiog?

  • Just Some Advice

    People really need to learn to use their heroin in moderation!

  • Get it straight

    Drugs have always been around in the suburbs just as much, if not more, than the city…. Also, any race, any age, any social status could be selling/using and/or being involved in crime, so those who are closeminded and uneducated, need to get real… There’s plenty of crime & drugs EVERYWHERE… Not just “the hood” or “ghetto” or whatever word you wanna use… Plenty of white people selling everywhere, doesnt matter where or who- it needs to stop. And we all know drugs are bad, even in moderation… ahem… Seriously though, be careful. It’s best to not even try or start at all in all reality. You may think you have it “under control” and are “using moderately” but in reality, you’re just hurting yourself, and you’re not gonna know it until it’s too late… So grow up and stop being so closeminded…

    • HaHaHaHa

      Thanks for the lecture, Get It Straight. By the way, I prefer either Ghetto or Blackville.

  • GrandExhaltedMysticPoobah

    Well, “HaHaHaHa” at least we see what drugs has done to one of the viewers of this website . . . singular focus and lost in the wind. By the way you prefer “Ghetto or Blackville” that’s great!! Which did you come from?

    Regarding “Get it Straigh’s” comments: you hit the nail on the head. This mess is everywhere. At least you are “lecturing” with intelligence . . . well done.

  • stephanie

    John Roberts lost his son, Billy, in Sept 2009, not nine years ago. Also, it was about 1/3 of the sample that started with pills. And thank you for covering this story!

  • writer.unknown a must read drug blog

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