The rise of prescription drug addiction has led to a corresponding increase in heroin abuse, with painkiller addicts turning to the hardcore street drug when pills become too expensive or scarce. And while the official statistics are slowly catching up to the reality, the best evidence of this trend comes from the trenches. The Denver Post has a heartbreaking new series detailing the lives of several young heroin addicts on the streets of Denver, while these recent articles examine the increase in heroin abuse in New Jersey, Maine, California, and Pennsylvania.
One huge factor behind the switch to heroin is the reformulation of OxyContin, one of the most commonly abused painkillers.
The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that heroin use has risen to 239,000 users in 2010 from 213,000 in 2008 – likely as a result of painkiller addicts switching to the street drug.