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Illinois Drug Threat Assessment
The high levels of drug abuse and availability in Illinois pose significant problems. DAWN ED admissions, drug-related overdose deaths, drug abuse by arrestees, and self-reporting show a continued upward trend. Lower prices and higher purity levels indicate that drugs are readily available throughout Illinois. The following issues present areas of concern.
Crack cocaine's standing as the most significant drug problem in Illinois will continue. Crack sales by street gangs and the attendant violence continue to spread from large urban areas to suburban and rural areas of Illinois. Law enforcement sources in Illinois report that violent crime associated with the sale and abuse of crack is one of the most serious problems they face. Most federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in Illinois cite the violent crime associated with gang-related drug trafficking as the most serious criminal threat to the state.
Heroin abuse will continue to increase in the Chicago area. A growing category of young, white, suburban heroin users in the Chicago area prefer higher purity white heroin over Mexican brown powdered or black tar heroin. Mexican heroin producers may be changing their product to meet this demand. Increased supply, lower cost, and higher purity levels of heroin will lead to increased heroin abuse in suburban and rural areas.
The high rate of marijuana abuse by Illinois students foreshadows a new generation of adult drug abusers. Higher rates of drug abuse by school age students are tied more to the perception of lesser risk than increased availability. Teenagers increasingly perceive marijuana and club drugs as harmless. The increased abuse of marijuana and club drugs by students may lead to increased abuse of other drugs as students grow older. One national study determined that children who use marijuana are 85 times more likely to use cocaine than nonusers.
Methamphetamine availability and production are growing rapidly in Illinois. Methamphetamine is now the most significant drug threat in the rural areas of the state and the second biggest threat, after crack, in some urban areas of central Illinois. Although methamphetamine availability in Chicago is low, abuse in Chicago may increase slightly as the popularity of the drug increases in the northern and northeastern parts of the state. If methamphetamine makes inroads into Chicago, it will likely occur through Mexican organizations supplying Hispanic street gangs that sell methamphetamine at the retail level to Hispanic and Caucasian users.
The dramatic increase in the availability and abuse of club drugs in urban areas of Illinois will continue. Seizures of these drugs continue to rise significantly in the Chicago area. In the 6-month period ending in May 2000, USCS agents at O'Hare International Airport seized over 150,000 MDMA pills. Varying levels of purity and the tendency to mix club drugs with alcohol and other drugs present a danger to the user and will increase the number of ED and treatment admissions.
Increases in ketamine abuse will likely parallel an increase in the rate of thefts or diversions from legitimate sources. Jurisdictions that begin to encounter veterinary clinic burglaries should expect an increase in the availability of ketamine and alert hospitals and substance abuse treatment centers to the possibility of an increase in ketamine abuse patients. Law enforcement officials and the American Veterinary Medical Association recommend that ketamine and other drugs be stored in a secure lock box to protect them from theft.
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