A new survey of 15,000 patients at drug-treatment centers in 49 statesshows that drug abusers are not completely abandoning prescription opioids for heroin. Instead, many use the two concurrently based on their availability.
The findings also reveal regional variations in the use of heroin and prescription painkillers.
"On the East and West coasts, combined heroin and prescription drug use has surpassed the exclusive use of prescription opioids," said senior investigator Theodore J. Cicero, PhD of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, . "This trend is less apparent in the Midwest, and in the Deep South, we saw a persistent use of prescription drugs -- but not much heroin."