The image of the heroin user as a burnout, slumped in a city alley with a dirty tourniquet and a used needle, is fading. A spate of overdoses beyond the city limits highlights a growing problem.
Desperate and broke in 2007, he searched the Internet for stories about heroin arrests. Then he headed to the location he found online — the Austin exit off Interstate 290 — to see what he could score.
“I figured heroin was cheaper than pills,” Patrianakos, 25, a Web developer from Joliet, said in an interview. “I just kind of drove around the neighborhood and went up to every person I saw.”
One man agreed to give Patrianakos information about where to find the drug if he gave him a ride.
“You don’t really have friends when you’re a drug addict, but it was kind of like friends,” he said. “He was my connection. He would help me find it.”
The image of the heroin user as a burnout, slumped in a city alley with a dirty tourniquet and a used needle, is fading. Today’s heroin, more powerful and user-friendly than ever, is entrenched in the suburbs, which in recent years have seen a spate of overdoses, some of them fatal.
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