In Perspective: Harder Habit

By Cynthia Bruno |

Published 11/14 2013 04:14AM

Updated 11/14 2013 11:43AM

CENTRAL ILLINOIS-- Police officers, users, and state lawmakers all saw there's been a dramatic increase in heroin use in central Illinois.

John Porter used to be addicted to heroin and he says he wouldn't wish the symptoms of withdrawl on his worst enemy.

"It's the only time in my life, in almost 30 years, that I wanted to die," he says.

After years of looking for a high, Porter is now trying to stay clean.
He says the heroin is popular and easy to get.
Police in central Illinois are seeing a lot more of it on the streets and now, even the state is stepping in. 

Porter spends his days landscaping and says he often finds himself with a lot of time to think. 
"I think about, I'm glad our family's still together. We're not broke up. Nobody's in the hospital, our kid is still with us, you know what I mean," he explains. 

That's what runs through his mind while he's working.
When he's outside working on other people's yards, he says what he's really working on is himself.  

Porter says, after he couldn't get his hands on prescription drugs to get high, he turned to heroin. 
"It was so easy to get and just everywhere," he says.  

A report from September shows more than 80% of people who used heroin between 2008 and 2010 used pain medication first for non-medical reasons. 
Police say since prescription drugs are harder to get, more are turning to heroin which means there's more of it on the streets. 
According to the Champaign Police Department's annual report, officers seized 1.8 grams of heroin in 2011. 
In 2012 that number went way up to 75.6 grams.
Sgt. David Griffet says this year, thanks to some big busts, they've already seized more than 300 grams of heroin. 
However, he also says that just getting the drugs off the streets, doesn't solve the problem. 
"Unfortunately the users are not going to go away. They still want to get high, they still want a fix, so therefore somebody's going to come along and fulfill that void," he says. 

Heroin has become such an issue state wide that lawmakers at the state capitol have decided to form a special task force in hopes to help fight it.

"There's a dramatic rise in heroin use especially among teenagers and high school students and college students and I think it's our responsibility to raise awareness and come up with the framework of how to deal with this," says Sen. Andy Manar (D) who represents the 48th district. 

Manar met with the rest of the task force for the first time last month.

"I don't think the task force is going to come up with a magic solution to this growing crisis, not just in suburban Chicago, but even in downstate. But I think what it will accomplish is it will get educators involved, it'll get law enforcement, not just police but state's attorneys and advocates who want to tackle this issue head on.

Manar hopes this task force will help people drop heroin and get clean. 
However, doing that means toughing through the symptoms of withdrawl.
It's a battle Porter is still fighting. 
" It's been almost three and a half months for me since I used last, and I still don't feel 100%," he says. 

While he may not feel like he has it all together yet, he knows he's already made the most important change. 
"It's still not the same, but every day it gets a little bit better," he explains. 

Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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