2009-12-10, Heroin: USA, A Growing Trend Among Teens in the Northeast

Baggies of heroin have been stamped with “Twilight,” the title of the first popular vampire book and movie series, along with a cartoonish photo of its lead star Robert Pattinson (who plays Edward) to seduce young fans, reports amNew York, citing the surfacing of the bags in Hempstead, Long Island. This action reflects the growing trend of heroin use among teens living in the suburbs of New York, as well as other suburban areas of the Northeast.


Heroin today is stronger and less expensive than it used to be. For instance, the New York Times reports that according to officials and former users, a bag can sell for $5 to $25 and induce a six to eight-hour high—as opposed to Vicodin or OxyContin, which can sell for more than $40 per pill. It can be snorted as easily as it can be injected, and is often easier for teens to get than alcohol is, which accounts for its growing popularity.

A small bag of heroin is actually cheaper than a six-pack of beer, says John Gilbride, the special agent in charge for the Drug Enforcement Agency's New York field office, in the CBS News article, “Teen Heroin Use – and Death – On the Rise.”

Experts believe that for these reasons, heroin use has increased among teens. Here are recent stats:

• Heroin crisis admissions, which include hospital services and medically monitored withdrawal, increased by one-third on Long Island, New York.

• Heroin is the primary problem substance for 25 percent of admissions to OASAS (the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services)-certified crisis services and 17 percent of non-crisis services, accounting for 22,800 and 36,300 admissions in 2008.

• In Suffolk County, Long Island there was a 25 percent increase, resulting in 1,470 crisis heroin admissions in 2008. In Nassau County, Long Island there was a 59 percent increase, resulting in 1,002 admissions in 2008. Other upstate New York counties also saw substantial increases in heroin admissions.

• Heroin admissions to non-crisis services also increased 11 percent statewide, from 2002 to 2008, with a 4 percent increase from 2007 to 2008 alone.

• Heroin users in Long Island are younger than average. For instance, 65 percent of heroin admissions in Suffolk County are under 30 years old and 54 percent of heroin admissions in Nassau County are under 30.

• At a treatment center in Hartford, Connecticut close to 30 percent of young adults cited heroin addiction during admission this year, compared to 10 percent in past years. And at an adolescent abuse center in New Jersey, about 40 percent of teenagers entering treatment are for heroin addiction, which is nearly double the number from last year.

• In the first half of this decade, there were more than 20,000 admissions for heroin treatment annually, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which is 50 percent more than the admissions for cocaine treatment (the next highest number).

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