A growing number of people are becoming addicted to heroin in New York state, according to drug treatment counselors and police. They say many people have switched to heroin from prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, the Associated Press reports.
Police report the people they arrest for heroin often started on painkillers prescribed by a doctor, then started purchasing them on the street. They turned to heroin because it is less expensive.
Many areas around the country are seeing a surge in heroin addiction that stems from prescription drug abuse. A study published in July 2012 in the New England Journal of Medicine found OxyContin abuse has decreased now that the painkiller has been reformulated to make it more difficult to misuse. Many people who abused the drug have switched to heroin.
The study included more than 2,500 people who were dependent on opioids, who were followed between July 2009 and March 2012. During that time, there was a 17 percent decrease in OxyContin abuse. In 2010, the company that makes OxyContin introduced a new version of the drug that is more difficult to inhale or inject. During the same period, heroin abuse doubled.