Heroin accessibility up in Arizona

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an apparent heroin overdose which has raised concerns in Arizona about an increased demand for the drug.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency there's more heroin running around Arizona than there was a few years ago.  And some say heroin dealers make their way to your kids through your medicine cabinet.

“Prescription drug use is absolutely considered an epidemic here in Arizona,” said Thalia Williams, director of DrugFreeAZ.org. 

Williams said one in five Arizona teens has abused prescription drugs - a major risk factor for heroin use.

“That [prescription] drug may not be readily available to them. They're seeking that high so they may turn to something like heroin because it's a similar high.  It's actually a lot cheaper and they may find it more easily accessible,” said Williams.

Accessibility is indeed a major concern.

DEA numbers show heroin's presence in Arizona is on the rise.  In 2008 police across Arizona seized 154 kilograms of the drug.  By 2012 that number was up to 522 kilos.

During a big meth bust in Phoenix just last week police also found nearly two pounds of heroin.

While heroin specific numbers from Phoenix PD weren't immediately available, opiate based drug crimes - the group to which heroin belongs - were up 57 percent from the first quarter of 2012 to the second quarter of last year according to the Phoenix police website.

Anti-drug advocates say now is the perfect time to talk to your kids.

“90 percent of addictions start in the teen years,” said Williams.  “It's never too early to start talking to your youth about drugs because somebody will talk about it.”