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National Drug Intelligence Center
Heroin in the Northeast: A Regional Drug Threat Assessment
Heroin has posed a significant drug threat to most metropolitan areas in the Northeast for decades. In the past, Southeast Asian heroin dominated the market. At that time, most abusers injected heroin because purity levels were relatively low as a result of distributors' "cutting," or diluting, the drug several times before it was sold at the retail level. In the early 1990s South American heroin became available in the region. This low cost, high purity heroin eventually supplanted Southeast Asian heroin as the most prevalent type available. It attracted and continues to attract many new and young abusers because it can effectively be snorted or smoked, eliminating the risk and stigma associated with injection. Further, many new abusers mistakenly believe that snorting or smoking the drug will not lead to addiction. These factors, combined with ready availability and low cost, have led to increased abuse and market expansion in most metropolitan as well as suburban and rural communities of the Northeast. Heroin distribution and abuse are more problematic in the Northeast than in any other region of the country.
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