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Heroin making comeback as painkillers

become non-injectable

Dan Box,

The Australian


Heroin is making a return to the inner

cities, with frontline support services

and police seeing evidence of

increasing use decades after the drug

reached crisis levels across the country.

The number of people using heroin at

Sydney’s Kings Cross injecting centre

in the past six months has increased

almost 60 per cent, to an average of

2247 a month, compared with the first

half of last year.

The number of overdoses from opiate

use at the centre has risen in line with

this increase, to 416 during the second

half of last year, although no one has

died as a result.

Police in several of the city’s inner-city

suburbs are also seeing evidence of an

increasing amount of heroin on the

streets, while calls to the national

Family Drug Support phone line

suggest this impact is being felt in

other state and territory capitals.

Experts believe the increase may be

linked to the introduction of new forms

of widely used prescription painkillers,

specifically oxycodone, which prevent

them being injected. The use of these

opiate-based medications has soared in

Australia in the past decade and some

of those hooked on legal drugs may

now be turning to heroin to feed their


The head of the Australian Crime

Commission, Chris Dawson, has

warned that Australia may follow a

trend seen in the US, where oxycodone

use is widely seen as fuelling a heroin


Speaking at the National Policing

Summit in Melbourne in August, Mr

Dawson pointed to the increase in US

heroin deaths, which have more than