It is a cocktail of heroin and cold medicine that can kill your child – and it goes by the name ‘Cheese’. Police in New York are on alert for a wave of deaths as young children get hooked on the latest fad drug to sweep the city.
Coined ‘Cheese’ by the schoolchildren who are addicted to it, the brown powder gives a high for just $2 that can easily be sniffed between lessons.
Victims: Oscar Gutierrez, 15, and Nick Cannata, 16, both died after becoming addicted to ‘Cheese’. Dealers are increasingly the drug, known as ‘starter heroin’, at children to get them addicted young
Dealers have been stamping packets with child-friendly brands like Lady Gaga, Mickey Mouse, the Looney Tunes logo and characters from the Lion King in order to lure in ever younger customers. But once children are hooked they find it incredibly hard to quit – withdrawal symptoms start within six hours meaning addicts have to dose themselves up to 15 times per day.
The dark twist is that ‘Cheese’ also contains a potentially fatal amount of acetaminophen, a common ingredient in cold medicines like Tylenol, giving rise to its other name – ‘Tylenol With Smack’.
The drug has been linked to a string of fatalities in Texas and now police in New York fear it is heading their way too ‘It can ruin lives,’ said an NYPD commander who recently taught patrol officers how to spot it.
Lethal: Cheese is a combination of heroin and cold medicine which is highly addictive and is said to be behind at least 20 deaths in the U.S.
‘Cheese’ has been on the radar of drugs officials since 2005 since when it has been blamed for more than 20 deaths in Dallas alone. Although just 2.6 per cent of high school students have tried heroin, dealers are using ‘Cheese’ to get them hooked at a lower cost. The drug is made by mixing the heroin powder with cough medicine, possibly with the addition of water or other ingredients, and then usually snorted.It has a heroin purity of up to 8 per cent, well below the level of intravenously injected drugs, but enough to make it addictive.
Police have found that children as young as 12 have become hopelessly addicted to the drug and only escaped its clutches with the constant help of their families.
Among those who lost their child to ‘Cheese’ is Dave Cannata from Dallas, who now travels the U.S. warning other parents about the drugs. Mr Cannata found son Nick dead in his bedroom five years ago after he overdosed on the cocktail. The 16-year-old had only been out of rehab for six months when he came home and apparently went straight to bed. He was found dead the next morning.
‘Parents need to be scared of this stuff,’ Mr Cannata said. ‘Every day I look at his picture and I wish that I spent the 40 grand a month to send him away to get some help. ‘You have to jump on the problem right away. This drug is so highly addictive.’
The Drug Enforcement Agency refers to ‘Cheese’ as ‘starter heroin’ because of the low amount of the drug in it. Over time users build up their tolerance level so they need increasingly large amounts to get high – before moving on to the real thing.
Source: – http://www.dailymail.co.uk 14th Oct 2010