Saturday, April 15, 2006

Heroin-based drug takes hold in Texas

The Norman Transcript

Oklahoma City (CNHI) - A heroin powder called "cheese" is making inroads in Dallas, but not yet in Oklahoma, investigators said.

A Dallas Independent School District police bulletin said officers have handled 54 felony and 24 found property cases involving the drug this school year through March 1. It describes the drug as a tan powder comprised of the pain reliever acetaminophen, diphenhydramine HCl and up to 8 percent heroin.

The term "cheese" also is one of many street slang terms for heroin, particularly in the western United States. Dallas ISD Officer Jeremy Liebbe, who wrote the bulletin article on the drug, reported the drug's effects are just as debilitating.

"'Cheese' appears to be highly addictive and withdrawal symptoms may onset as fast as within twelve hours and include headache, chills, muscle pains, muscle spasms, anxiety, agitation, disorientation and disassociation," he wrote. "Many users have attempted to quit but are overwhelmed by the physical withdrawal symptoms and return to regular use within one to three days."

So far, its use in Oklahoma appears to be minimal to nonexistent. Jessica Brown, public information officer with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said no one at the bureau had come across the drug "though that does not mean it doesn't exist."

An Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control spokesman also said cheese had yet to surface in the state.

"If it has, we haven't heard about it," said Mark Woodward, OBN public information officer. "Maybe some treatment centers, but I have never heard of that."

Staff members at Drug Recovery Inc. in Oklahoma City and the NAIC Center for Alcohol and Drug Services in Norman also say they haven't heard of cheese. Steve Nelson of NAIC said marijuana is the most common non-alcohol drug among school-aged students and methamphetamine may be even more addictive than heroin.

But Nelson, an alcohol and drug counselor, is concerned that if cheese is being used across the Red River, it could arrive in Oklahoma before long.

By James S Tyree


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