Chesterton Tribune

Porter County drug problem by the numbers

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Quantifying the drug problem, with numbers culled from the anti-drug forum at Willowcreek Middle School in Portage on April 13:

•The number of teenagers in Porter County known to be heroin addicts, according to Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brian Gensel: 250.

•The number of major drug cases—defined as Class C felonies or above—run through Gensel’s office every year: between 200 and 250.

•The percentage of the 500 or so inmates of the Porter County Jail who have some substance abuse problem, according to Sheriff Dave Reynolds: 95 percent.

•The percentage of violent crimes committed by offenders while under the influence of some substance, according to Reynolds: 50 percent.

•The number of times a 38-year old Portage woman—a wife of 17 years and a mother of three—had to smoke crack cocaine before becoming addicted to it after trying it one night while out with the girls, according to Capt. Terry Swickard of the Portage Police Department: once.

•The number of new referrals to Porter County Juvenile Probation in 2004 on substance-related charges, according to Probation Officer Amy Beier: 652 or 39 percent of all new referrals.

•The number of new referrals to Juvenile Probation in the first quarter of 2004 on substance-related charges, according to Beier: 160 or 45 percent of all new referrals.

•The number of times recovering addicts have told Gwen Schilling of Porter-Starke Services that Getting sent to jail saved my life: too many to count. “You wouldn’t believe how often I’ve heard that.”

•The amount of money which Vicki Rock, an inmate of the jail and a recovering heroin addict, spent every day to support her habit: between $200 and $300.

•The number of times Rock was shooting heroin and a fellow addict fatally overdosed in her company: at least once. “I didn’t really care. I was getting high.”

•The number of times Rock was kidnapped or otherwise held against her will by dealers: at least twice. On one occasion she was held hostage in Chicago for three days while her boyfriend scrambled to find cash to pay off their drug debt and the dealer entertained her by torturing other deadbeats in front of her.

•The number of times Rock was sexually assaulted while high: once, maybe. She doesn’t remember anything about the incident except being dumped from a moving car, partially clothed and left for dead.

•The number of times Pete Shaw, a standout high-school football player recruited by numerous major universities and a recovering addict, overdosed on heroin: three. “I’m lucky to be alive. And I’m grateful to be alive.”

•The number of Porter County residents, aged 16 to 25, who have died in the last eight years from heroin overdoses, according to Karen Conover, a member of the Community Action Drug Coalition and the mother of a recovering addict: more than 38.

•The price of a plastic baggy of heroin the size of your thumbnail, according to Conover: $10.


Posted 4/21/2005