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New wave of heroin apparently claims Hoffman as well as others

Tuesday - 2/4/2014, 5:58pm  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- The weekend death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent heroin overdose is focusing renewed attention on a dangerous drug that seems to be making a resurgence.

The most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that the number of recorded heroin overdose deaths nearly doubled in the decade between 2000 and 2010.

Authorities say a number of factors are fueling the use of heroin -- including relatively low prices, and a less demonized image than the drug once had.

Last month, the governor of Vermont devoted almost his entire State of the State address to the state's heroin problem, calling on the Legislature to pass laws encouraging treatment and to seek ideas on the best way to keep people from becoming addicted.

One expert who studies substance abuse at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale says the striking thing about heroin's most recent incarnation is that a drug that was once largely confined to major cities is spreading into suburban and rural towns across America. Jim Hall says it's being used predominantly by young adults between 18 and 29. He says the spread has been the most rapid one seen in drug abuse since cocaine and crack in the mid-1980s.

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216-a-16-(Jim Hall, epidemiologist, Nova Southeastern University, in AP interview)-"from getting sick"-Nova Southeastern University epidemiologist Jim Hall says many users come to heroin when sources of prescription painkillers dry up. (4 Feb 2014)

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215-a-15-(Jim Hall, epidemiologist, Nova Southeastern University, in AP interview)-"fill the bill"-Nova Southeastern University epidemiologist Jim Hall says heroin works on the brain the same way as a synthetic opiate like oxycodone. (4 Feb 2014)

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213-w-35-(Warren Levinson, AP correspondent, with Jim Hall, epidemiologist, Nova Southeastern University)--A star's death is putting an old drug in a new spotlight. AP correspondent Warren Levinson reports. (4 Feb 2014)

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GRAPHICSBANK: 3d syringe and spoon with brown liquid, partial graphic (4 Feb 2014)

APPHOTO NY861: FILE - In this Monday, May 6, 2013 file photo, a drug addict prepares a needle to inject himself with heroin in front of a church in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. It's not a rare scene on Skid Row to spot addicts using drugs in the open, even when police patrol the area. Jim Hall, an epidemiologist who studies substance abuse at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. says, the striking thing about heroin's most recent incarnation in the early 21st Century, is that a drug that was once largely confined to major cities is spreading into suburban and rural towns across America, where it is used predominantly by young adults between the ages of 18 and 29. "We haven't really seen something this rapid since probably the spread of cocaine and crack in the mid-1980s," Hall said. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (6 May 2013)

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