More and more people are dying from heroin overdoses because their friends don’t want to call to get them help for fear of being arrested. As the number of heroin users increases, so does the number of heroin related deaths, and some of them could be avoided if only their friends had called for help when the person was overdosing.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Friends are leaving friends to die. It is part of the devastating toll heroin is taking in our suburbs.
CBS 2′s Dave Savini looks at heroin in our high schools and how a new law was created to save lives.
Once considered a dirty urban street drug, heroin use is exploding in the collar counties and more teens are using it. Two students from Naperville’s Neuqua Valley High School made a documentary called “Neuqua On Drugs”, which focuses on heroin. In it, various students talk about their experience taking heroin.
“I had been using heroin frequently,” said one student, while another said, “I just wanted to try it.”
A third said, “You tell yourself you’re not going to do it again.”
The teens talk about snorting it and one says, “I could see myself doing this until the day I died, and at the rate I was going, it was pretty close.”
In Will County, since 2007, 175 people have died of heroin overdoses. Three were Neuqua students — Jonathon Betten, Megan Miller and Ryan Warner.
In Warner’s case, he was surrounded by people when he overdosed but no one called 911 for help.
“So they basically left him there to die,” said a teen in the documentary.
In McHenry County last month, Ken Chiakas’ 17-year-old daughter Stephanie, an honor roll student, also was left to die.
“It’s the worst thing ever,” said an emotional Chiakas.
His daughter was at a friend’s Crystal Lake home playing video games when she passed out from a heroin overdose and nobody called for help. Chiakas says that image plays in his mind, “All the time.”
Police in the suburbs are dealing with the onslaught of heroin and big increases in heroin deaths. One undercover Joliet Police narcotics unit officer says users are worried calling for help will lead to themselves facing drug charges.
“You don’t want somebody scared to call because they’re fearful they’re going to get arrested — just call,” said the undercover officer.
Now they can call. A law passed last year, the Good Samaritan Law, gives drug-offense immunity to users who call 911 to save another. A simple call that might have saved Stephanie Chiakas’ life.
“It’s sad. How could you leave somebody laying there like that,” said Chiakas. “How ruthless.”
We are told at least three people this year have been saved thanks to the Good Samaritan law. They overdosed, and friends called for help without worrying about themselves.
Do you think the Good Samaritan law is a good way to address the issue of people dying from overdose because their friends are afraid to call for help? What else can we do to lower the number of overdose deaths?