Recovering addict supports task force

By Alex Davis |

Published 03/05 2014 11:34AM

Updated 03/05 2014 11:39AM

SPRINGFIELD -- The state is facing a heroin epidemic. A new task force to combat the problem met for the first time Tuesday. WCIA-3's Alex Davis keeps us Connected to the Capitol.

Dustin Ochoa is a recovering addict. He believes a task force is desperately needed.

"I couldn't go to bed without using. I couldn't go to work without using. It just took over my life."

At the Gateway Foundation, Ochoa is working to recover from his addiction to heroin.

"It takes all the pain away. It makes you forget all your problems. While you're high, you don't think about nothing. It just pretty much puts you almost in a sleep-state."

The 28-year old has been addicted to the drug for four years.

"I started using way too many, not caring what would happen sometimes. I wish I wouldn't wake up, you know?"

But, after 21 days at Gateway, he's clean.

"It got to the point where I was using a lot."

Life stories like Ochoa's are why some state lawmakers have launched a task force on the heroin crisis.

"The numbers are stark. There were more heroin deaths in Will County last year than there were traffic deaths."

Representative Lou Lang (D), who chairs the panel says the problem isn't limited to any particular region.

"It's stretching all over the state of Illinois."

Drug prevention specialists say heroin is highly addictive and easy to overdose on. It's even a bigger problem than methamphetamine which is no longer the front runner in Illinois' drug world.

"Deep, Southern Illinois, Central Illinois, would tell me meth is the problem. Now, we're finding out that heroin is starting to overtake it as a more more serious issue."

Some of the bills already drafted call for more treatment centers for addicts.

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