Heroin use is on the rise among suburban youth, and although the numbers still are small, spikes in overdoses and even deaths show an alarming trend, says the Kansas City Star. The problem has shown up in New York, Illinois, Alabama, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Utah, and Washington state. In Blue Springs, Mo., police dealt with five cases of heroin and youth in October after half a decade of seeing none.
In many cases, the way was paved by other opiates, the Oxycontin or Vicodin painkillers, often swiped from a medicine cabinet. Parents have become more alert to possible misuse. While painkillers can run to $40 to $60 a pill, a bag of heroin, which produces a more intense high, is $5 to $10. One girl said her dealer lived two blocks from her upper-middle-class home. The street heroin of the 1960s and '70s was about 30 percent pure. Today, it's often 60 percent, making it possible to smoke or snort. Two years ago, the parents of a local high school graduate found their 20-year-old son against the sink in his bathroom, the needle still in his arm, dead of an overdose. Johnson County, Ks., sheriff's deputies listed him as one of 24 heroin overdoses and one of five deaths that year. The first five months of 2009 is the latest data they have compiled. In those months, 22 overdoses and six deaths were recorded. The problem is steadily growing, said David Brown, a drug and alcohol abuse counselor in Olathe, Ks. “This year alone we did intervention on three young heroin addicts.”