Addictions to opiate-based painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin are fueling a growing heroin problem in the Detroit suburbs, reports the Detroit Free Press. Authorities in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties said they have seen increases of up to 50 percent in the number of people seeking treatment for heroin addiction. “We’re constantly amazed at how young the users are getting,” said Detective Sgt. Deron Myers of the Chesterfield Township Police Department. “Years ago, you’d never fathom a 15-, 16-, 17-year-old using heroin. It was considered an inner-city [ ] drug.”
The new heroin addicts likely started off using prescription drugs. When the prescription drugs ran out, they turned to the street, where the drugs cost $80 a pill. Heroin, on the other hand, is cheap — as little as $5 a pop. “That’s what’s driven the epidemic over the last two years,” said Rick Isaacson of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “It’s almost as if you’re not becoming a heroin addict, per se, you’re becoming an opiate addict.” Health agencies say that they have seen in increase in heroin addiction in their treatment facilities, and opiate painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin are increasingly at the root of the addiction.