Trends in heroin use expanding into higher-income homes

Missouri drug counselors seeing more people being treated for heroin addictions

POSTED: 05:40 PM CDT Apr 25, 2013    UPDATED: 10:19 PM CDT Apr 25, 2013 
COLUMBIA, Mo. -

Heroin is no longer just an inner-city street drug. 

As prescription drugs have become pricier and more difficult to use, upper-income families and even some professionals have turned to heroin as a fallback. 

A lot of adults coming into treatments centers with heroin addictions once used powerful prescription drugs, such as Oxycontin or Vicodin, according to addiction counselors. 

This is a trend that is spreading across the state of Missouri. 

"It was a drug that showed up strongly in the St. Louis area and has worked its way through the state, heading toward Kansas City," Tanya Weigand of Pathways Behavioral Health told ABC 17 News. 

This rise in heroin use could be because of the increased difficulty to get high on prescription pain killers. 

Companies are taking steps to try and keep people from abusing these drugs.

"They are making the tablets uncrushable, which is one common way people are abusing different prescription drugs," Weigand said. 

Law enforcement also said they believe this could be a reason for the spike. 

"We have seen a little bit of an uptake in heroin use. We've noticed a lot of it has been coming from the Jefferson City area. Law enforcement in that community has made some high profile arrests," said Detective Tom O'Sullivan of the Boone County Sheriff's Dept.

There is also the element of cost. 

Opiates such as Oxycontin can cost $60 to $100 per pill, whereas heroin costs $45 to $60 for a multiple dose supply.

For whichever reason, more adults are taking up heroin. 

Counselors say the addictive nature of this drug is affecting more than just its users. 

"We're even seeing a trend that the drug is so addictive that the parents are not ready to fight to get their kids back right away," Weigand said.