Heroin Hits Rural Areas; Some “Have Absolutely No Idea Of The Strength”


While the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent heroin overdose occurred in New York City, the street drug is no longer just a big-city problem, says The Tennessean. Heroin has become the replacement drug for people in rural areas who lose access to narcotics, say addiction experts. Tennessee, traditionally one of the easiest states for obtaining controlled substances, has limited prescriptions. Heroin is filling the void with a cheaper, easier-to-get and more potent alternative. The drug is widely used in Nashville and surrounding towns, says Dr. Chapman Sledge, chief medical officer of Cumberland Heights treatment center.

“The way that it seems in Nashville, it's like ordering a pizza,” Sledge said. Young people, who have not built up a tolerance for narcotics, are making heroin the first opiate they use, he said. “I worked this weekend and I saw more heroin-addicted patients this weekend than I saw in the 10 years prior to moving up here,” said Sledge, who formerly practiced in South Mississippi. “Seriously, I would see one or two a year. I probably had six or eight this weekend whose drug of choice is heroin. It is rampant.” Every dose of heroin is a deadly gamble, said Ben Levenson, chief executive officer of Origins Recovery Centers. In many cases, heroin users “have absolutely no idea of the strength,” Levenson said. “They are exceeding their thresholds and overdosing.”

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