Orland Park police officers have noticed a rise in heroin use within the last few years, recently surpassing the number of cases and calls involving cocaine, according to Orland Park’s top cop.
“There’s no question its replacing cocaine as a drug of choice,” Chief Tim McCarthy said. “Those that are snorting it might be thinking it’s cocaine and it is not. It can lead to a powerful and devastating addiction fast.”
McCarthy recently met with Drug Enforcement Administration agents who cover the area including Orland Park, and among the issues discussed was the influx of heroin distribution through Chicago out to other parts of the country and Canada. This type is white powder – hence people confusing it for cocaine – and is stronger than what’s been encountered before.
But McCarthy also pointed out that this influx is not only happening among high school kids.
“I would not lead anyone to a conclusion that it’s all kids. It’s not,” McCarthy said. “We’ve seen that but more arrests have been adults, many people long out of high school to a couple years out.”
On Jan. 12, administrators from sent out a letter, along with robo calls where school principals read the letter aloud, asking parents for help and awareness of teen substance abuse. The letter and calls came . Authorities are still investigating the causes.
McCarthy said parents need to have a “frank discussion with their children advising them of the seriousness of using (heroin). It is an absolute must in this day and age for parents to have the conversation as early as possible.”
Though an officer is stationed at , and the police department with junior highs, parents also need to play a role, given the drug’s attributes, McCarthy said.
“Marijuana leaves clues. There’s a strong smell to it, it’s relatively easier to find,” McCarthy said. “In the case of heroin, or other powder drugs, it usually comes in a small bag that’s easy to conceal. And the effects are far more devastating than marijuana.”
Police departments also are not notified about every overdose that may involve drugs in the area. The DEA has resources to track overdoses and can build a stronger presence if overdoses are sharply on the rise, though McCarthy said it hasn’t risen to that level here.
Most of the cases in Orland Park where heroin is found, it is a small amount intended for personal use, or among a few people. Distribution is happening more outside of the area, from what officers have seen thus far, McCarthy said.
“It’s not to say it isn’t possible. We could very well one day find distribution,” McCarthy said. “But that’s all the more reason why we need parents, schools, everyone to know how dangerous this heroin is. Marijuana might be a gateway drug, but this is an exit drug.”