Kentucky, Pennsylvania see rise in heroin abuse

The nationwide spike in heroin abuse in the wake of the painkiller addiction epidemic reared its head in two more areas this week. Law enforcement officials in Kentucky are reporting a dramatic rise in the number of arrests and seizures related to heroin, according to this article. Kentucky State Police submitted 451 suspected heroin samples to its lab in 2010; by 2011, that number had increased to 749, and through September 2012, state police had submitted 1,074 cases to the lab, the article notes. And in Pennsylvania, heroin-related deaths in Allegheny County increased from 62 in 2008 to 95 in 2011, this article says.

Painkiller addicts across the nation are turning to the hardcore street drug when pills become too expensive or scarce, according to a letter published in July in the New England Journal of Medicine. Three researchers examined the effect of the abuse-deterrent formulation on the abuse of OxyContin and other opioids, surveying 2,566 people seeking treatment for abuse of or dependence on opioid drugs. Although 24 percent found a way to defeat the tamper-resistant properties of the abuse-deterrent formulation, 66 percent indicated a switch to another opioid, with heroin the most common response.

About Erin Marie Daly

I’m a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. My book on prescription drug and heroin addiction was published in August 2014 by Counterpoint Press.
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