Like many other areas that have struggled with prescription drug abuse, Maine is now seeing a dramatic spike in heroin overdoses as pill addicts make the switch to the illegal street drug. Portland city officials say that in the past month, they have responded to 14 reports of overdoses, and there have been three deaths from possible overdoses, according to this article.
On Wednesday alone, the Portland Fire Department provided emergency life-saving medical treatment to four people who had overdosed on heroin, while a fifth person was found dead in an apartment from a possible drug overdose, the article says.
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.