“Gateway to Heroin” Documents the Link between OxyContin and Heroin

In 2009, Current TV correspondent Mariana von Zeller traveled to South Florida to report on the prescription drug pipeline that stretches from the beaches of Miami to the hills of Appalachia.  Her documentary, "The OxyContin Express," won a Peabody Award for its depiction of the impact of Florida's prescription drug epidemic on addicts, law enforcement officials and prisoners.  Now von Zeller has produced a new documentary called "Gateway to Heroin" that exposes how prescription opiate addicts are turning to heroin for a cheaper high. For "Gateway to Heroin," von Zeller focused on the situation in Massachusetts, where prescription pills have become the most popular street drugs.  Many drug dealers travel to Florida (referred to by von Zeller as the "Colombia of prescription drugs") to obtain prescription drugs illegally, bringing them back to Massachusetts to sell on the street.  In an article on the CNN website, von Zeller states that more people are abusing prescription drugs than heroin, cocaine and Ecstasy combined. The most abused prescription drugs are painkillers that…

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Florida’s Oxy Express

Florida has become ground zero for the prescription drug epidemic in America.  In communities like Fort Lauderdale, once a popular tourist destination and yachting center, drug dealers have set up shop in strip mall “pain clinics.”  Instead of selling crack or heroin, these dealers are pushing powerful prescription drugs like oxycodone, a narcotic painkiller that is marketed under the names OxyContin, Roxicodone and Oxyfast.  The pain clinics, referred to as "pill mills" by law enforcement officials, make it easy for addicts to obtain powerful prescription narcotics. National Public Radio recently reported that doctors in Florida write 10 times as many prescriptions for oxycodone as all the other U.S. states combined. Florida pain clinics operated by disreputable physicians attract people from all along the eastern seaboard.  A typical visit to one of these clinics consists of a quick exam and a prescription for a painkiller like OxyContin.  Many clinics are also equipped to fill prescriptions.  Drug addicts and dealers who sell oxycodone on the street are able to walk out…

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