A dangerous and addictive high is killing people at an alarming rate in the Rockford-area. 13News takes an in-depth look to find out why more people are turning to heroin.
"He was a good kid. You couldn't ask for a nicer kid. But the drugs tore him to pieces, made him a monster," says Dave Reine as he fights tears.
His son, Daniel Reine, died of a heroin overdose six years ago. Daniel grew up a typical Midwestern kid. He loved to play baseball and ride his 3-wheeler and mini-bike.
"We don't know what happened, like his brother, his oldest brother David said we would have never thought he would have gotten into anything because he didn't care about no drugs, he didn't care about alcohol or nothing. And then all of a sudden he started drinking, then he started smoking pot," says Dave.
Dave says his son did not start using drugs until he got into his 20s. Pretty soon occasional pot smoking, turned into cocaine and then heroin.
"My son would tell me Dad I want off of it, I can't get off of it," says Dave.
He says by then his son was barely recognizable. Besides losing a lot of weight, Daniel also started stealing from his family. Money would go missing from wallets and items started disappearing from the house. Dave says he threw his son out after he found him trying to break into his brother's room.
"I would stand at the hallway at the corner of his doorway and tell him, 'Daniel if you don't get off this stuff I'm going to find you dead or I'm going to get a call,' " says Dave.
This is a problem that is getting worse everyday in Rockford.
"In the last several years I have seen an increase in the heroin use in the Rockford area. I don't think it is just the Rockford area I think it is across the whole country," says Lt. Marc Welsh, Rockford Police Department.
The Winnebago County Coroner's Office has the records to prove it. For the first three months of the year, 23 drug related deaths caused either by heroin or cocaine or a combination of the two.
"If you follow through with the statistics we've had anywhere from the 50s to the 60s to the 70s as far as deaths for the entire year. If you follow this through we are going to have well over 100 this year. And this is only January, February and March," says Sue Fidducia, coroner.
"Several years ago heroin was nearly double the price of cocaine and then Al Qaida got involved in the heroin business and cut the price. And now heroin and cocaine are roughly in the same price area," says Lt. Welsh.
Although you can't point the finger just at al-Qaeda and the Afghanistan region for the increase in heroin, the Justice Department says Mexico is an even bigger supplier of heroin in the U.S. And just because you don't use heroin does not mean you are not affected by it. Rockford Police Lieutenant Marc Welsh says seeing an increase in any illegal drug in an area means you will also see crime rise.
"Your users will try to do whatever they can to obtain additional quantities of that drug. Whether it is going out and committing thefts or burglaries or possibly even like prostitution, forgery, anything like that. As well as that not being the only crime that increases but you are going to have violence that are involved in selling illegal narcotics as well," says Lt. Welsh.
But for Dave, the consequences of heroin are something he has to live with forever. His son Daniel died of an overdose at the age of 32.
"He was my son, I loved him. I still love him. I don't know what else to say Heroin is a killer, it is just that simple," says Dave.
He speaks at recovery homes to tell other drug users, especially teens and young adults, the dangers in abusing heroin.
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