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Mar 8, 2014|
American experts say heroin use has risen in the United States since more than a decade ago when a crackdown on the abuse of prescription drugs like OxyContin began.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, heroin use has risen almost 100 percent since the crackdown, which has made obtaining pills illegally more difficult and expensive.
"Absolutely, much of the heroin use you're seeing now is due in large part to making prescription opioids a lot less accessible,'' Theodore Cicero, a psychiatry professor at Washington University in St. Louis and one of the authors, told The Washington Post.
Between 2007 and 2012, heroin use was up nearly 80 percent with four out of five users reported to have had experience with prescription drugs, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center, which was shut down in 2012.
OxyContin, a powerful time-release painkiller, went on sale in the mid-1990s, and the crackdown on prescription drug abuse began a few years later.
At the time, there were reports of street use and overdoses. According to the study, heroin use was stable or possibly declining slightly. Cicero said there was a "lot of inaction" even though many involved in federal drug enforcement feared drug users would turn back to heroin.