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Young people who begin using heroin generally are unaware of the drug’s dangerous effects, according to a new study. Researchers interviewed 15 current and former heroin users in the suburbs of Chicago, ages 22 to 31. When they began using heroin, around age 18, most believed that if they snorted or sniffed the drug they were less likely to become addicted.

“These young people didn’t know what they were getting into,” lead researcher Kathie Kane-Willis of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University told the Courier-News. “They didn’t understand when they tried heroin how easy it would be for them to become dependent, and they didn’t know how severe the withdrawal symptoms could be.”

Almost two-thirds of the study participants said they tried heroin after first using prescription pain drugs, or to “come down” from cocaine use.

More than three-quarters either said they had a mental health condition—such as anxiety, ADHD, depression or bipolar disorder—or exhibited signs of having a mental health disorder during the interview process.


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