"Cheese Heroin" Is Back on the Dallas Drug Scene
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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%.