CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Heroin-related deaths are on the rise in Chicago and across the nation. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of deaths has more than doubled in the past 5 years.
And now, a recent skit on Saturday Night Live has some outraged that the show is poking fun at the heroin epidemic.
Recovering heroin addicts, families connected to addiction, and advocates say they work hard to bring awareness to the epidemic, and that this comedic skit feels like one step forward and three steps back.
The fake ad for was for "Heroin A.M." - said in the clip to contain a small amount of caffeine and cocaine, and was meant to help heroin users be more productive throughout the day. The skit included three characters: two moms and a mini-van driving soccer coach.
“It’s only funny until it happens to you,” said recovering heroin addict Kurt Scheitler.
Scheitler has been clean for more than a year after using on-and-off for 20 years. Rachel Caithamer is also in recovery and both said they are disgusted by the SNL sketch.
“It's not funny, it affects your whole family, it's not a break from your kids, it's oh, mom passed away,” said recovering heroin addict Rachel Caithamer.
Billy Bungeroth with The Second City comedy club said he understands the parody.
“First and foremost I thought it was really funny,” said Bungeroth. “Everyone who wound up publishing a piece on why this was good or bad comedy, which is totally subjective, had to write about what's a major issue.”
He said nothing in comedy is off the table - ever. They were impacted by heroin and cocaine overdose deaths themselves when both John Belushi and Chris Farley OD'ed.
Their job at The Second City and at SNL is to reflect what's going on in today's world. That, unfortunately, means the increase in heroin use.
“It's better to raise awareness, than to be comfortable all the time,” said Bungeroth.
Recovering addicts stress a skit poking fun is not how to spread the word and stop the stigma.
“Not by making light of a situation that we are losing over 100 people a day to heroin overdoses,” said Scheitler.
“You don't poke fun at people and something people don't have control over,” said Caithamer. “Some people don't have control over cancer, there's no control over drug addiction.”