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Heroin Addiction

Cheese Heroin Addicts in Dallas Now as Young as 9 Years Old

posted 04:55 AM EST, Wed March 26, 2008
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In Dallas! 9 Year Old Cheese Heroin Addicts © Photo: Slapbcn

Police say that the average cheese heroin user in Dallas is getting younger, and doctors confess that they just don't know how to treat an addiction in those as young as 9.

What do you do with a 9 year old Heroin Addict?

Dallas Texas is enduring its third year of what officials call a "mini epidemic" of cheese heroin addiction, and doctors say they are seeing a disturbing new trend.

Cheese heroin is a combination of low grade Mexican black tar heroin, and crushed sleep medications, such as Tylenol PM. The drug is cheap but very addictive; 1 dollar will buy a line, and users snort the drug for a high that wears off fast, leaving users in a state of withdrawal within a couple of hours.

Nationwide, the average heroin user is older and white, but in Dallas, the new generation snorting heroin is Hispanic, and hasn't yet moved out of middle school.

Doctor Carlos Tirado, a psychiatrist at UT Southwestern Medical Center says that "Kids as young as 9 or 10 years of age coming to the hospital emergency rooms or detox facilities in acute heroin withdrawal." He asks, "Do you send a 9-year-old to an AA meeting?"

Cheese heroin contains typically between 1% and 3% heroin, and the high wears off quickly. Police say that users describe needing a fix 8 or more times per day, with some kids saying they wake up in the middle of the night in full withdrawal.

There have been 8 overdose deaths linked to cheese heroin in the last 21/2 years, and although police have had some success in reducing access at high schools, Hispanic parents complain that their neighborhoods are full of the drug.

Police Detective Jeremy Liebe, who works with the Dallas Independent School District Police Department, says that although he has personally arrested over 300 in connection with the drug, that "This is not a problem we can arrest our way out of."

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