An increasing number of teens and adults in southern California are using heroin, according to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officials.
“Heroin use has become a particular concern for the DEA because we’re seeing people using heroin at such a young age,” Agent Sarah Pullen told NBC Los Angeles. High school counselors in Orange County are reporting a rise in heroin use, the article notes.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported initiations to heroin have increased by 80 percent among teens ages 12 to 17. The increase in heroin use is largely attributed to the drug’s low cost and easy availability, both in southern California and around the country.
A study published last year 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.