A Barometer Survey of Illinois of 2015 found that 88,000 adolescents per year reported using illicit drugs within 30 days before being surveyed. In addition, 222,000 young people reported binge alcohol use in the month before the survey. Another 267,000 youths per year reported dependency or abuse of an illicit drug within a year’s time. Additionally, 694,000 people each year reported heavy alcohol drinking within a month prior to the survey.
The Illinois Department of Public Health compiled statistics from 2013 through 2015 regarding overdose deaths in the state. There were 1,381 deaths related to opioids in 2015, which was up from 1,072. Also, there were a total of 844 heroin-related overdose fatalities in 2015 which was almost doubled the rate from 2013. The majority of the overdose victims were men, but many women also suffered the same fate.
Chicago, IL is the third most populated city in the United States with over 2.7 million residents. It is the county seat of Cook County and often referred to as Chicagoland. Incorporated as a city in 1837, Chicago grew rapidly in the mid-nineteenth century. Chicago, Illinois is positioned along Lake Michigan and is an international hub for commerce, finance, industry, telecommunications, technology and transportation. The O’Hare International Airport is the second-busiest airport in the world. According to census data, Chicago has a 9% Hispanic population, composed of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Guatemalan, Ecuadorian, Columbian, Cuban, Salvadoran, Peruvian and Honduran. In addition, the city has one of the world’s most diversified economies in the world. The median income for a household in Chicago is $47,400 and 18% of families live below the poverty line.
For Chicago, a city in the grips of a violent crime epidemic, there were more than 3,000 people shot in 2015. In addition, the percentage of people who went into treatment for heroin addiction was double the national average in 2012, based on results of a study by the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University. The majority of the Chicago-area emergency department visits were related to heroin use. Researchers found that one out of four opioid related hospital admissions in IL occurred on Chicago’s west side. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were 2,113 heroin deaths in the state from 2013 to 2015.
Aurora is a suburb of Chicago located in Kane, DuPage, Kendall and Will counties. This city is on the outer region of Greater Chicago and has a population of around 200,000 people. Aurora was nicknamed the “City of Lights” in 1908 because it had an all-electric street lighting system. The historic downtown, along the Fox River, is centered on Stolp Island. This city is home to many impressive structures, such as those by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Bruce Goff. The median family income in Aurora, Illinois is $61,100 and only 6% of families live below the poverty line. The Huffington Post called the Chicago suburban area the “Midwest Binge Drinking Belt”. A Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System report showed that Illinois has higher rates of alcohol consumption (drinking = alcoholism) than other states. When compared to 2002 data, the area’s binge drinking rate has increased steadily from 56% to 59%. The 2010 survey also found that Chicago has a 17% rate for binge drinking, with a 61% rate for alcohol (beer, wine, liquor) in the last month.
The third largest city in Illinois is Rockford. Around 153,000 people live in the City of Rockford and it is the county seat of Winnebago County. Located on both banks of the Rock River in north Illinois, the city was settled in 1834. Noted for its output of heavy tools and machinery, by the turn of the 20th century, Rockford was known as the second leading center of furniture manufacturing in the nation. Today, Rockford is home to the Anderson Japanese Gardens, the Coronado Theatre, the Burpee Museum of Natural History and the Tinker Swiss Cottage. The largest employers in Rockford Illinois are The Rockford Public School District, Chrysler, Swedish American Hospital and the Rockford Health System. According to a 2015 report on WIFR, drug use is on the rise in Winnebago County. Some of the most common are cocaine, crack, meth (Methamphetamine), Molly (ecstasy), heroin (black tar, white powder), pills (oxycodone, vicodin, morphine, painkillers). The County Coroner’s Office reported that the number of drug-related deaths spiked 72% since 2011, with 52 people dying in Winnebago County in 2013 alone.
A city in Will and Kendal counties, Joliet Illinois, is 40 miles southwest of Chicago. It is the county seat of Will County and has a population of 149,400; making it the third largest city in the state. Joliet has a total area of 62.8 square miles and it extends into nine different townships. The Des Plaines River runs through the city and the Central Joliet region is all land west of the river and east of Interstate 55. Joliet has many other waterways including Hickory Creek, Jackson Creek, Spring Creek, Chase Lake, Michigan Beach, Lake Juco and Aux Sable Creek. According to a survey by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Joliet region has an average of 1 million people who used illicit drugs during the last 12 months of being surveyed. This 15% of the population is a higher rate than most of Illinois. The rate of non-medical use of prescription opioids (RX pills = pain killers or muscle relaxers) was 4.2% and another 11% of people reported using marijuana.
Naperville is a city located in Will and DuPage counties. A suburb of Chicago, Naperville, IL was voted by Money Magazine as the second best place to live in the U.S. Interestingly, a 2010 study named Naperville as the wealthiest Midwestern city. Around 142,000 people reside in the city, with a racial makeup of 82% white, 2.5% African-American, 13% Asian and the remaining 2.5% “other” or “two or more” races. Naperville is a family-oriented city, showing 45% of households being home to children under the age of 18 years. The average family size is 3.55 and the median family income is $130,100. Because the city has a thriving economy, only 2.5% of families live below the poverty line. The economy exploded in the 1980’s-1990’s, with major employers being Bell Labs, Western Electric, Amoco, Nalco, Nicor and Edward Hospital. Among the residents of Naperville, heroin use is prevalent with high school students. NBC Chicago reports that most of Illinois’ heroin comes from Mexico, with a drug production increase of 600% in the last decade. A report of DuPage County found that heroin-related deaths increased from 26 to 42 from 2011 to 2012. The city has been mainly hit the hardest by the heroin epidemic, according to authorities.
The capital of Illinois, Springfield, is the county seat of Sangamon County. There are 117,000 residents in Springfield, IL and it is the state’s sixth most populated city. Settled by European immigrants in the late 1810s, even Abraham Lincoln lived in the area from 1837 to 1861. The major tourist attractions here are Lincoln’s Presidential Museum, his home, his tomb and the historical town of New Salem. The hilly terrain of city lies near Lake Springfield and the Sangamon River. The city has 48,600 households and 27.5% have children under age 18 living in them. The average family size is 2.94 and the median income for a household is $39,400. Around 8.4% of families live below the poverty line in Springfield. In a 2016 article titled “Opioid Illinois,” the Illinois Times discussed the Illinois and Sangamon County opioid problem. In the U.S., 47,055 people died from opioid drug overdoses in 2014. Of these people, 1,705 were from Illinois.
Peoria, IL is the largest city on the Illinois River and it was established in 1691 by Henri de Tonti, a French explorer. Peoria is home to the oldest European settlement and was named after the Native American tribe of “Peoria”. Incorporated in 1835 as a village, local early explorers first established Fort Clark in 1813 but it later was renamed Peoria. There are around 115,000 people who live in the city but the Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of 374,000. Like many states in the U.S., Illinois is experiencing a surge of drug overdose fatalities, which are due to the growing opioid and heroin epidemic. Between 2013 and 2014, 1,705 deaths occurred, which was up 8% from the previous year. A report from Reboot Illinois found that the death rate was 13 per 100,000 persons. In addition, heroin addicts are driving across the city and state to meet dealers. Addicts include students, laborers, white collar professionals, and blue collar technical workers. They are from every walk of life, every race and all socioeconomic levels. In 2014 and 2015, Peoria was the source city for central Illinois heroin, based on a report from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Waukegan is the county seat of Lake County, Illinois. There is a population of 89,000 who reside in the city. Waukegan’s development began in 1891 when immigrants from Southeastern Europe and Scandinavia moved to the region. The arrival of Washburn & Moen, a barbed-wire manufacturing company, prompted land speculation and labor migration. The town also became home to large groups of Armenians. By the 1920s, African-Americans migrated to Waukegan from the south and the city retained an industrial character for years. Because of supposed unequal wealth distribution, the city experienced the Waukegan Riot of 1966. Leading Efforts reported on the heroin problem in Lake County in 2016. Illinois has had a significant increase in heroin-related fatalities, with 54% being related to heroin from 2014 through 2015. Lake County saw 83 overdose reversals by law enforcement since 2015. Additionally, in the U.S., the CDC found that opioids were involved in 28,647 deaths in 2014 alone.
A suburb of Chicago, Cicero is an incorporated town in Cook County, Illinois. The population is around 84,000 and the town is named after Cicero New York, which was named after Marcus Cicero; a Roman statesman. The racial makeup of Cicero is 52% white, 4% African-American 4% “two or more races,” 30% Hispanic/Latino and 10% “other.” In the town, the average family size is 4.19 and 18% of the population live below the poverty line. The average income for a family is $42,200. There has been an increase in heroin-related deaths in this suburb from 2011 to 2012, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Heroin is the major opiate used in the Chicago suburban area for non-medical purposes. In 2012, there were 15,350 heroin treatment admissions, with law enforcement finding that heroin represented 20% of items analyzed in forensic laboratories. The Illinois State Police Division noted an increased in heroin that contained fentanyl from 2013 through 2014.
Champaign City is 135 miles south of Chicago and is home to 84,500 people. Notable for sharing the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana with its sister city of Urbana, Champaign is also the home of Parkland College. Many technology companies have headquarters or companies here, such as Archer Daniels Midland, Deere & Company, Down Chemical Company, State Farm and IBM. Of the 32,150 households of Champaign City, IL, 21.5% of them have children under age 18 years. The average family size is 3 and the median income for a family is $73,000. While this is the case, 12% of families subside below the poverty level. The two top employers in Champaign are University of Illinois at Urbana and the Champaign School District. In 2016, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority cited that law enforcement agencies have found an increase in heroin distribution (48%), as well as a 59% increase in transportation. Ten of 21 DEA field divisions, including those near and around Chicago, reported that heroin was very available in 2015.
Bloomington has a population of 77,000 and is part of the Bloomington-Normal Metropolitan Area. The twin cities together are home to around 130,000 people. According to a 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the city of Bloomington’s main employers are State Farm Insurance, Illinois State University, Country Financial, Unit 5 School District and Advocate Bromenn Medical Center. Home to Beer Nuts, U.S. Cellular Coliseum and the McLean County Fairgrounds, three interstates intersect at Bloomington: 39, 55, and 74. Based on a report by the University of Illinois, many local residents struggle with addiction. Heroin use in Bloomington is on the rise and the majority of the drug comes from Mexico. Heroin is being used by suburban high school students, grandparents, housewives, and white collar professionals, according to NBC News. The epidemic is affecting all age groups, all races, and many socioeconomic levels.
Decatur is the county seat of Macon County, Illinois, and it was founded in 1829. Located along the Sangamon River and Lake Decatur, the city has an estimated population of 73,000. Decatur, IL has a large industrial and agricultural processing production, which includes Archer Daniels Midland, Tate & Lyle’s corn-processing plant and manufacturing facilities for Caterpillar Inc. In addition, from 1900 to 1974, Decatur served as home to the Commodores. The Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois reported on the scale and distribution of abuse regarding drugs in Decatur and other Illinois cities. They found that the percentage of heroin-related treatment admissions increased from 2007 to 2011. In Decatur, rates of admission were up 10%.
In Cook and Lake Counties, Arlington Heights is a suburb outside of Chicago. It is approximately 25 miles northwest from downtown and has a population of around 76,000. The village is neighbor to Bolingbrook, Palatine, and Schaumburg. The city is home to Arlington Park Race Track, the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, and the Arlington Million. The population of the city grew in the 1950s and 60s, which was due to the baby boomers and “white flight” from Chicago. Arlington Heights’ main employers are Arlington Park, Northwest Community Hospital, and the school district. A drug report from Roosevelt University found that heroin-related deaths are on the rise in the city. The increase from 2012 through 2014 is attributed to the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic. In 2010, the rate increased 11% for the west region.