A new study indicates that Missouri is seeing a decline in methamphetamine use and an increase in heroin and opiate use within the last decade.

Opiates (found in painkillers) and heroin treatment admissions made up a combined 26% of all drug treatment admissions and were the second most common reason to enter treatment behind marijuana. Methamphetamine comprised just 19% and cocaine 13% of treatment admissions.

Drug Policy Director Kathleen Kane-Willis with Roosevelt University in Chicago says it’s about the change in drug use patterns. “From the stimulants to the opiates in heroin and that’s holding steady across Missouri and across the country,” she said. Other stimulant drugs such as cocaine have seen a decline in the number of treatment admissions since 2001.

Kane-Willis adds that there is also a link between people who become dependent on prescription pills and using heroin, with a greater proportion of young, caucasian users, age 30 or younger. It’s also seen with opiate use. “This has been a pattern that’s existed for some time. Heroin has been expanding in a number of states and Missouri is one of them,” she said.

She says the rise in heroin use is due to a link between individuals who become dependent on prescription medication then switch to using heroin. Methamphetamine can also result in heroin use. Heroin treatment admissions have more than doubled in the last ten years.


AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (0:56)