Heroin Use and Criminal Penalties in Illinois

Heroin in IllinoisKelly Glish, the newest attorney at Appelman & Associates, recently penned a response to an article in the Chicago Sun Times about the rampant rise in heroin use, especially among teens and young adults. Below, she explains the personal and criminal consequences of heroin use.

Recently, during a conversation with colleagues, I was surprised to hear that the drug of choice throughout suburban high schools is heroin. However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense how that came to be.

I have several friends who are grade school teachers, and I often hear about their futile attempts to communicate with parents about student misconduct, which is often met with resistance and a, “my child would never do such a thing” attitude. This type of mindset is likely the reason heroin is growing popular among high school students. Parents either don’t believe their child would do such a thing, or don’t want to accept and admit that their child is in fact using heroin. However, when it comes to heroin use, parents aren’t alone in thinking that it isn’t a problem to worry about. Local government officials recently realized that heroin is a bigger problem than they first imagined.

Realizing that heroin is a problem is the first step to getting Chicago and the surrounding communities on the same page in fixing the problem. We cannot fix a problem that we don’t believe exists. We need to recognize the signs of heroin abuse and addiction. We need to listen when others stress concerns about individuals who use and admit there’s a problem where one exists

The consequences of heroin abuse are grave:

  • Addiction: Addiction happens, and it happens quickly. Nearly 1 in 4 who try heroin will become dependent. Those who are addicted and abusing may have shortness of breath, dry mouth, constricted (small) pupils, sudden changes in behavior or actions, cycles of hyper alertness followed by suddenly nodding off, weight loss, unexplained runny nose, or cuts, bruises, and scabs from needle prick marks.
  • Conviction: Heroin addiction can happen to anyone – young, old, white, black, rich, poor, and even to your loved ones. Heroin abusers go to great lengths to get the drug, and it’s not uncommon for them to have a run-in with the law. If found in possession of heroin, maximum punishments start out at a $200,000 fine and/or 4 to 15 years in the penitentiary. If found selling, manufacturing, or possessing with the intent to traffic, maximum punishment starts out at a $500,000 fine and/or 6 to 30 years in the penitentiary. These are felony-level crimes. Beyond the punishment though, one who is convicted of possessing heroin can forget about getting government financial aid for a college education.

Heroin use is on the rise particularly in the suburbs. Cops are increasing enforcement and they will continue implementing sting operations. If you or your loved one is abusing heroin, it’s important to get help before the abuse results in a felony conviction.

We can’t continue to bury our heads in the sand, pretend the problem doesn’t exist, and hope the problem will go away on its own. The issue must be confronted, as hard as it may be, before it spirals out of control. We can keep our loved ones’ futures bright by coming together as a community. Awareness and communication are key.

If you or your loved ones need help with addiction or with getting life back on track after arrest or conviction, the attorneys at Appelman & Associates can help.

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