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National Public Radio's Still Slicing Into Dallas' Cheese Problem

Most kids we know like this kind of cheese -- the string cheese. Turns out, there are still some 9-year-olds in Dallas who prefer theirs cut with heroin and Tylenol PM.
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This morning National Public Radio ran a story on Dallas’ cheese heroin problem -- you remember that, right? The good news: No overdose deaths among teens since last July, when cheese -- Mexican black-tar heroin that has been diluted with crushed tablets of over-the-counter sleep medication, such as Tylenol PM -- was getting Dallas plenty of bad pub. The bad news: Cheese is still turning more than a few 9-year-olds into junkies.

"Reports that we were seeing were pretty striking," Dr. Carlos Tirado, a psychiatry professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center and medical director of a drug treatment center in Dallas, told NPR. "Kids as young as 9 or 10 years of age coming to the hospital emergency rooms or detox facilities in acute heroin withdrawal. We didn't know what to do with a 9-year-old in opiate withdrawal, or what the treatment ramifications of that are. Do you send a 9-year-old to an AA meeting?"

Cheese, of course, is . As the story notes, Dallas is in its third year of what drug abuse experts call a “mini epidemic.” Of course, the story notes, "sniffing heroin is not particularly new. But addiction experts say this outbreak in Dallas is unprecedented. Typically, people who inhale heroin are older and they're white. In Dallas, however, users are mostly Latino, and they're young.”

While the use of cheese heroin among young Latinos has spread to other Texas cities, some substance-abuse experts say its not yet a trend. But that could change.

"The concern is that the people who market these dugs are very savvy, and if there's profit to be made by moving to another community, we know they'll do that," Robert Lubran, director of the Division of Pharmacologic Therapies at the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration told NPR. --Jesse Hyde

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