MIAMI – A heroin epidemic is underway in South Florida, according to Jim Hall, an epidemiologist at NOVA Southeastern University.
Hall has been tracking the number of heroin related deaths and inpatients at treatment facilities.
Numbers from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission show from 2011 to 2012, the number of heroin-related deaths more than doubled from 15 to 33. In Fort Lauderdale, the number tripled, now standing at nine.
The majority of all heroin-related deaths are between the ages of 35 and 50.
Ana Moreno, at Family Recovery Specialists, said she is now seeing patients as young as 18 and 19 abusing the drug.
The increase in heroin use seems to dovetail with the crackdown on prescription drug abuse.
Moreno said heroine produces a similar high as prescription painkillers like oxycodone.
Now that it is harder to get a prescription for painkillers, she said addicts are turning to heroin because it is often cheaper and easier to get.