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Mass Killer: Heroin Epidemic Hits Springfield

Heroin addiction causes thousands of deaths each year. (WRSP)

The heroin epidemic has hit Springfield and it's showing up in places you'd least expect.

From the streets to inside homes, the face of heroin is changing.

Sgt. Charles Kean with the Springfield Police Department has seen its powerful hold on users, saying it’s a community problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin-related overdose deaths more than quadrupled since 2010.

The Sangamon County Coroner’s Office reports eight deaths to heroin overdose in the county so far this year – double the rate at this time last year.

Kerry Henry is executive director of Gateway Foundation’s Springfield location, an alcohol and drug treatment facility.

“The epidemic that we are facing now is something I have never seen in the 23 years that I have been working for Gateway Foundation,” Henry said.

It’s 23-year-old Andrew Carlin’s fourth time at Gateway.

“I snorted it and I just instantly loved it,” Carlin said. “Every time I go back, it’s like ‘man, how did I get here again?’”

Carleigh Welsh, 24, describes her experience with heroin saying, “I felt like a little kid on cloud 9. Little did I know that was the start of another disaster in my life.”

Robinson, Illinois resident Carleigh Welsh says she first became addicted to prescription pain pills, and then heroin came into the picture.

Instantly, she was hooked.

“It’s like the devil has control over you and you can’t get out no matter how hard you pray to God…”

Welsh says her 4-month-old baby boy is motivation to stay clean, but it’s a challenge.

Even on the road to recovery, addicts fear falling back into the vicious cycle of abuse.

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