Graduating to heroin

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BagsOfHeroinPhilip Seymour Hoffman’s apparent death from a heroin overdose has focused attention on the skyrocketing heroin problem. The restrictions occurring for prescription opiates, improved vigilance of physician’s prescribing habits and the reformulation of some opiates to deter recreational use has led to people turning to heroin. Heroin is not a newcomer to urban environments, but it is also spreading widely to rural areas. Recently the Governor of Vermont devoted his State of the State address to the growing problem where use is of epidemic proportion.

As far as recreational drugs go, heroin is cheap at $5-6 a “bag”. Granted, users with a tolerance for the drug may require many “bags” to get high, heroin offers the user a far less expensive experience than prescription drugs. The “junkie” image of 1950’s and 60’s is being replaced by college-age kids, young working adults and professionals. Users may start out with snorting or smoking heroin, sometimes confining use to weekends until the use pattern becomes an addiction. Some heroin which is hitting the streets is cut with fentanyl making for a dangerous high. Like any other street drug the provenance of heroin is uncertain at best. It may be cut with other drugs and/or substances, including some which may contain poisons. Names like Ace of Spades, Kill Zone, NFL are literally brand names on the street.

Heroin use is increasing at an alarming rate. It is a highly addictive drug and like other opiates there is an increased tolerance with use leading to the potential for overdose and death. There is a fine line between “getting off” and death. Mr. Hoffman’s unfortunate death speaks to that problem.

Click here to read the New York Times story on this growing problem.

 

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