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As Prescriptions Become Harder To Get, Heroin Use Increases


Photo: CGehelen (flickr)

Researchers and drug rehabilitation counselors say teens are turning to heroin as prescription drugs become harder to get.

The number of Hoosier teens using heroin is more than double the national average, according to the annual Indiana Youth Survey released Wednesday.

Nearly one in every 100 or 0.8 percent of Indiana high school seniors uses heroin. The national average is 0.3 percent.

Heartland Intervention founder Scott Watson says part of the problem can be attributed to the strict regulations on prescription drugs.

“What we see is people run out of pain pills, or pain pills are expensive, and so they turn to another opiate substitute for that,” he says. “And heroin is a readily available, relatively inexpensive, fast-acting opiate.”

Rather than focusing generally on drug abuse prevention, Indiana targets specific drugs.  For example, Indiana has many programs and initiatives in place to deter the use of prescription drugs.

Indiana Prevention Resource Center Coordinator Courtney Stewart says when access to a drug is cut off, it seems to create a whack-a-mole effect: drug use in one area decreases while another increases.

“That’s pretty typical of drug use. We get something else under control and then we see something else spike up, either because of availability, price, or the perception that a particular drug is not as dangerous as another,” she says.

 A study released this month by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that people who used pain pills non-medically were 19 times more likely to start using heroin.

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