Dallas health officials are seeing children as young as 9 in hospitals with signs of heroin withdrawal, reports National Public Radio. The city is in its third year of what drug abuse experts call a “mini-epidemic” among young Hispanics snorting a mild but addictive heroin called “cheese.” Cheese heroin is Mexican black-tar heroin that has been diluted with crushed tablets of over-the-counter sleep medication like Tylenol PM. Typically, people who inhale heroin are older and white. In Dallas, users are mostly Latino, and they’re young.
Detective Jeremy Liebbe of the Dallas Independent School District Police Department has arrested and interviewed more than 300 users since 2005. Cheese costs only a dollar or two a line – well within a middle-schooler’s lunch budget. Because cheese heroin is low-grade, only 1 percent to 3 percent pure heroin, it wears off quickly and withdrawal sets in. Heavy users require frequent hits. Directors of local drug treatment centers report steady admissions of young addicts. Liebbe says, “This is not a problem we can arrest our way out of.”