When a Dallas supermarket noticed that Tylenol PM and drugs with the same ingredients were flying off the shelves, it stopped selling them when it found that children as young as 12 were stealing them to mix with black tar heroin to make “cheese,” a deadly drug that has claimed the lives of 23 area teens since January 2005. Police records show almost daily arrests for and confiscations of the drug in the area. Police officer Steve Fuentes said the cheese addiction problem stubbornly persists despite efforts to raise community awareness. “Every time we interview somebody, they tell us that everyone they know is on it,” he said.
Cheese heroin is snorted like cocaine. The active ingredients from Tylenol PM, Xanax or other drugs cushion users coming down from the heroin while providing a secondary high. Most fatal overdoses of cheese are attributed to the heroin, which can cause heart or respiratory failure. Some other supermarkets and drugstores, including Carnival and Walgreens locations, have restricted access to medicines that include the ingredient diphenhydramine. Shoplifting has fallen at one market by more than one-third since managers pulled medicines containing diphenhydramine from the shelves.