Heroin nowhere to be seen

By Mark Rivera

Collapsed veins, infections of the heart lining, liver disease and clogged blood vessels. This is the life of a chronic heroin user, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Web site.

Since Sept. 18, Champaign police have investigated three incidences of heroin overdose, two of which were fatal. According to Gary Spear of the Champaign Police Department’s crime analysis unit, the serious nature of these cases is alarming.

However, there have been no heroin investigations by University police this year, said Joe McCullough of the University Police Department.

Still, McCullough said that he has personally seen an increase in drug-related cases on campus.

“I’m busier than I’ve ever been,” he said.

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According to University police, there have been 42 cannabis-related drug arrests from January to September, up six arrests from the same period last year. However, arrests for controlled substances, such as heroin, cocaine and prescription pills have gone down by nine arrests.

“There are probably not a whole lot of heroin users among students,” Spear said. “I don’t know how you can be a heroin addict and be in college.”

John Listak, freshman in Business, said that although drug use may be present on the University campus, many students have the ability to avoid the drug scene.

“You can shield yourself,” said Listak.

Spear described the worst heroin addict he had ever seen.

“They had collapsed all of the veins in their legs and arms,” he said. “They were shooting up through their knees, and the last place they shot up was through the sides of their eyes. You almost want to just sit there and cry when you look at some of these people.”

However, Trey Horvath, sophomore in LAS, said he does not see campus drug use as a large problem.

“‘Drug problem’ sounds so serious,” Horvath said. “It sounds like there are coke heads running around.”

If there are illicit drug users at the University, it may be difficult for police to find and help them. Recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine may be done out in the open, McCullough said. In cases involving party drugs, people can give the police tips on drug users and dealers. This extra information is harder to find when it comes to heroin, methamphetamine or LSD usage.

“Most heroin or methamphetamines are done in private,” he said. “(Users) are a tight, close knit group.”

Spear said he was able to relate.

“The difficult aspect of drugs is that we don’t know about a lot of drug use and activity,” he said.

Of all illicit drugs, McCullough said he found marijuana usage on campus to be the highest in frequency, followed by cocaine and prescription pills with some methamphetamine usage.

Spears said that the most-used drugs on campus work as gateway drugs, introducing harder drugs to users.

“You don’t start out on heroin,” he said. Spear said most drug users start by drinking alcohol and progressing onward to new and harder drugs as they build tolerance to each.

“Drugs are a crime with wide coattails,” he said.

People, will commit burglary, robbery and retail theft just to get drugs.

“The one crime I would get rid of if I waved my magic wand would be drugs,” Spears said.