Here's how powerful heroin is.
In September 2007, 18-year-old Nick Beinlich overdosed on it in the Buffalo Grove home of his Stevenson High School classmate Matt McGovern and never regained consciousness, dying five days later.
Four months later, River Forest police found McGovern in a shopping center parking lot, slumped over the steering wheel of his car with a needle dangling from his arm.
Just think about that. A friend essentially died in his house, and that didn't stop McGovern from using. It wasn't enough to scare him straight, wasn't enough to shame him straight, wasn't enough to force him to face his addiction.
A friend essentially died in his house, and yet, McGovern went back to heroin. Just think about that.
But the power of heroin didn't stop there.
In September 2008, another Stevenson friend of McGovern's, 18-year-old Phil Capone of Vernon Hills almost died of an overdose, saved only because his mother found him unconscious in time to summon medical help.
Then in April this year, another Stevenson friend, 19-year-old Eddie Sivkov of Buffalo Grove, died on the floor of his bathroom a few months after completing a two-week rehab program.
And two months after that, Lincolnshire police arrested McGovern and charged him with possession of heroin after an auto accident. The 20-year-old driver of the car in which McGovern was riding also was allegedly high on heroin.
Two months after a second friend had died. Less than a year after a third friend almost died. And if the police account is correct, McGovern was still on heroin.
If you're clean, you ask yourself, how could that be? Two high school friends die. Another almost dies. You're arrested once. With all of that happening, who in his right mind would still be using? How could that be?
The answer, unfortunately, is simple. Someone with a heroin addiction isn't in his right mind.
This is how powerful heroin is.
As Jamie Sotonoff's reports sharply described last week, we're facing an epidemic of heroin abuse in the suburbs and in our schools. And it's leaving death and shattered lives in its wake.
Much more needs to be done to combat it. More attention and more funding is needed to try to get addicts off it.
But as McGovern's story clearly illustrates, the most effective way to get off heroin is to never get on it in the first place.
That's a message our community and our schools and parents need to underscore.