Despite Heroin Problem, Officials Will Maintain Pill-Abuse Crackdown


A “skyrocketing heroin epidemic devastating families across Kentucky” is described by the Louisville Courier-Journal, which says the drug-use increase is fueled by a state crackdown on prescription pill abuse that has addicts turning to the illegal street drug to find the same blissful high. Heroin is cheap and potent; a $25 bundle gives the same high as an $80 OxyContin pill. “Once you’re an addict, you’re more likely to use any drug that’s easily available to you,” said Jennifer Hancock of Volunteers of America of Kentucky, which provides drug treatment. “I wish I could say there is an end in sight. But I’m worried what we’re seeing is just the beginning.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports a 55 percent increase in heroin-related overdose deaths from 2000 to 2010. As in Kentucky, four national studies show heroin users first abused prescription narcotics. State and federal officials don’t believe crackdowns on prescription drug abuse are solely responsible for the rise in heroin, and they say they have no intention of curbing their battle against pill abuse. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said the state’s pill crackdown “played some role but it’s not the whole story.” He adds, “It’s logical they would turn to heroin. Both are opiate painkillers,” Conway said. “I would not back down one iota on the prescription drug crackdown. But sometimes, it feels like a game of Whac-a-Mole. You get one drug under control and another pops up.”

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