Heroin Abuse Is Rising, Even As Prescription Drug Abuse Declines

Jul 11, 2012

Not as many people are dying from prescription drug overdoses in Washington, but heroin abuse appears to be spiking higher. Those figures come from an annual report on drug abuse in the state. Researchers studied death reports, police reports, help-line phone calls and treatment records. And the picture this year shows heroin is making a comeback. Use of the drug peaked in the 90s, but since then it's been mostly confined to aging drug-addicts.

Caleb Banta-Green of the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse institute told KPLU that younger people are turning to heroin.

Banta-Green: "It's young adults 18 to 29, and much of that growth is outside King County region … places like Bellingham, Port Angeles and Aberdeen. Places like that."

Banta-Green says he suspects the uptick is because of teenagers who first get addicted to prescription painkillers, such as Oxycodone. Eventually, he says, these young addicts turn to heroin, which is a related drug. Banta-Green credits a drop in prescription drug overdoses to campaigns to limit the painkillers.

Copyright 2012 KPLU