"Cheese Heroin" Is Back on the Dallas Drug Scene

By McCarton Ackerman 05/21/12

The snorted mix of black tar heroin and cold meds seems popular mainly in North Texas, where it's implicated in two more fatal ODs.

"Cheese" heroin is a cute name with a deadly
meaning—especially for young North Texans.
Photo via

The recent overdose deaths of two Dallas high school students aged 14 and 17 were reportedly the result of "cheese" heroin—a drug mix that's strangely almost unknown outside of North Texas but has done considerable damage to youth in the region. It's a combination of black tar heroin and over-the-counter cold medicines containing acetaminophen, and it's snorted rather than injected. Cheese heroin first made headlines in 1998, when no fewer than 20 teenagers died of overdoses in the town of Plano; the 29 people indicted for being in the heroin ring which provided the drugs were almost all the same age as the overdose victims. Last year in the town of Flower Mound, 17 people under the age of 21 were indicted for drug crimes after three teenagers overdosed on "cheese" and died. "Unfortunately, drug abuse is marked by 'generational forgetting,'" says Jane Maxwell, a drug researcher at the University of Texas-Austin. "And over time, new users emerge who know nothing about the dangers and they start using. It's sad and discouraging." Craig Nuckles of Timberlawn Mental Health Services in Dallas reports seeing two to three young heroin detox patients there per week. Between 1996 and 2010, the proportion of users who reported snorting heroin increased from 4% to 16%.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.