Addiction expert: Drugs more available, popular than ever - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Addiction expert: Drugs more available, popular than ever

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Thursday's episode of Glee was dedicated to its star Cory Monteith, who died in July of an apparent overdose after mixing heroin and alcohol.

The death of Monteith, who acknowledged his struggle with sobriety, also served as a reminder of drug addiction happening in Las Vegas.

Addiction expert Dr. Michael Levy said there's a significant supply and demand happening in the area, and that heroin addiction, in his experience with patients, can affect people as young as 13 years old.

"Heroin is certainly not an uncommon drug. It's very available in this community," Levy said.

Levy, who was dealt with people struggling with addiction since the early 1980s, said he has never seen heroin as rampant as it is now.

"It's reached a significant level of popularity because of its availability and its price and its ease of use," Levy noted, as the drug, he says, has gone from intravenous use to smoking.

Levy also touched on the levels of drug use when one narcotic disappears.

"Generally, it starts with the pain pills, and when they no longer become affordable, then the individual goes to a drug like heroin," Levy said.

The drug may be glamorized by the lights of Hollywood, but, as Levy said, teens and those using heroin may not recognize the dangers, even after tragedies like Monteith's death.

"There is somewhat of a bulletproof mentality, that it can't happen to me," Levy said. "Well, it certainly can and does."

University Medical Center Emergency Medicine Chairman Dr. Dale Carrison has seen the realities of an overdose up close and, at times, it doesn't have to include heroin.

"It's our legal prescription drugs that are prescribed. That's the major problem we have with overdoses in this community," Carrison said.

He also noted, like in Monteith's case, mixing any kind of drugs, pills or heroin becomes deadly. He said more than 30,000 people will die this year from prescription drug use, which is a number that surpasses deaths from automobile accidents.

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