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Teen Drug Use on the Rise | Crime

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Teen Drug Use on the Rise
Crime

LAS VEGAS -- A new study by the Partnership for a Drug Free America says teen marijuana and alcohol use is on the rise. But while many are sticking to marijuana and alcohol, in Las Vegas, many teens are making the leap to heroin.

Read the Study

What most teens don't realize is how quickly experimentation turns into addiction.

"Heroin was always associated to the IV, the homeless, the person on the street corner. Now it's kind of like Middle America," said Kevin Morss, Community Involvement Center Director for Westcare.

Morss deals with teens suffering from substance abuse. He says in the last year, he's seen a 30 to 40-percent increase in heroin use.

"The stigma of injecting heroin is not there anymore. They're smoking heroin, snorting heroin, they are using it in different ways, so they don't have that stigma of being an iv drug user," he said.

Morss says many teens make the jump into heroin while abusing prescription drugs like oxycontin and lortab, which have similar effects. Once a teen has started, it's hard to stop.

"They don't want to stop because of the withdrawal symptoms -- the getting sick and the irritable feeling and the lack of sleep. So then they have a hard time getting off of it," he said.

A couple of years ago, Green Valley High School came under scrutiny after several students were found using black tar heroin. Now students claim thanks to random drug testing that problem is in the past.

They say marijuana use is up thinking it does no damage.

"There's not much long-term effects, at least of what I know of it, and it doesn't really harm you as long as you don't do it every two hours or something like that," said student Jennifer Morris.

But teens say no matter what your drug of choice, accessibility is never a problem.

"Anywhere, from other friends to different people they know," said Shaudeya Elder. "There's dealing inside the schools. I've seen plenty and outside."

Morss says unfortunately, as long as accessibility is easy, some teens won't be able to say no, even to the hard stuff. He thinks the biggest problems with teen heroin use are being seen in the more affluent neighborhoods and schools.

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