DALLAS (AP) - Some states, including Texas, are reporting a rise in heroin use as many addicts shift from more costly and harder-to-get prescription opiates to this cheaper alternative. A look at what’s happening in Texas:
Heroin overdose deaths have more than tripled in Texas during the last 15 years.
Drug smugglers use Texas’ 1,200-mile border with Mexico to transport heroin that ends up in cities and rural towns all over the state.
While use of so-called “cheese heroin” - a mix of heroin and over-the-counter pills such as Tylenol PM - that was popular in the last decade has faded, cities across Texas are seeing higher uses of Mexican “black tar” heroin. It’s a gummy substance that users dilute and inject, but can also smoke or snort.
Dr. Jane Maxwell, a drug abuse researcher at the University of Texas, also says more young people are dying from heroin overdoses. “What worries me is that the traditional treatments that we often use really aren’t as appropriate for younger adults,” Maxwell said.
Total heroin deaths in Texas rose from 111 in 1999 to 371 in 2012, the latest year available in data collected by the Texas Department of State Health Services. The number of deaths has nearly quadrupled among whites and Latinos and has risen among all age groups.
The amount of heroin seized along the southwest border area more than doubled between 2004 and 2010, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center’s 2011 report.
Maxwell says state authorities and drug clinics need to do more for younger heroin addicts, including using different drugs to treat heroin addiction.
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