Kentucky Finds Heroin on the Rise as Prescription Drug Abuse Declines

As Kentucky begins to see results from its crackdown on prescription drug abuse, officials report a rise in heroin use.

Earlier this year, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed into law a bill aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse. The law requires that all pain clinics be licensed, specifies requirements for ownership and employment, and obliges Kentucky’s licensure board to develop regulations for pain clinics. It gives law enforcement easier access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring database. Doctors must examine patients, take full medical histories, and check electronic prescription records before writing prescriptions for opioids.

“There’s always some type of drug to step up when another gets taken out,” said Dan Smoot, Law Enforcement Director of Operation UNITE, which combats substance abuse in Kentucky. “We didn’t know it was going to be heroin. We knew something was going to replace pills.”

Law enforcement officials say heroin is imported from Mexico and Central America, according to the Associated Press. It is cheaper and more easily available than prescription opioids, such as oxycodone. Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, told the AP that a single oxycodone pill can cost between $80 and $100, compared with $15 to $20 for a bag of heroin.

The rise in heroin use as a result of prescription drug abuse is part of a national trend.

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    February 12, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    From what ive seen its legal they are doing nothing about these kids on herione. They need to quit treating these people like babies start cracking down thats is whats wrong with country they dont prevent or stop they put in a building with each other and they tell eachother where to get while they are wasting tax money for room and board and tv schooling who knows

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    November 30, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Addiction is not caused by a substance. If the root cause of the addiction isn’t dealt with, the addiction doesn’t just go away when a given substance is removed. The crack down on prescription drug abuse is a much needed thing, and I in no way believe that doing this can CAUSE heroin addiction. The gentleman in the article, Dan Smoot, was quoted as saying that “we knew something was going to replace pills”. Maybe a system needs to be in place where a crack down on a cetain substance is combined with a program for actually dealing with addiction as it’s own issue.

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