Texas schools battle 'starter
By Donna Leinwand, USA TODAY
A new heroin-laced powder
known as "cheese" is popping up in middle and high schools
in Texas, where dozens of youths have been caught with the
drug, federal and local officials say.
far the problem has been focused on schools in Dallas, where
police first reported kids snorting the mixture of ground-up
cold medicines and heroin at the start of this school year.
However, the Drug Enforcement Administration, which calls
the addictive concoction "starter heroin," is concerned
enough about the drug's appearance in Dallas that it has
alerted agents nationwide to watch for it.
emerging problem," DEA spokesman Steve Robertson says. "It's
something we're tracking to see if we can spread the word
before it becomes a huge problem."
Dallas have logged 78 incidents involving cheese in 11
middle and high schools, says Jeremy Liebbe, an investigator
with the Dallas Independent School District Police
As is the
case on campuses across the USA, marijuana remains the most
popular drug in Dallas schools, Liebbe says. Monitoring the
Future, a national survey of drug use, said last year that
about 27% of 10th-graders had used marijuana during the
previous year; the rate for heroin use among such students
was less than 1%.
a tan powder made mostly from acetaminophen and
diphenhydramine HCL — the ingredients in Tylenol PM — with a
little heroin mixed in. Liebbe says samples confiscated in
Dallas have been up to 8% heroin. The drugs are crushed
together and typically folded into notebook paper. A
quarter-gram sells for $5, Liebbe says, and a single hit
usually sells for $2.
feel euphoric and then sleepy, lethargic and hungry, he
says. Cheese has been a nickname for heroin, Liebbe says.
powder has been sold by 18- and 19-year-olds near school
campuses and by older students in those schools, Liebbe
says. The heroin has been brought from Mexico and then has
been mixed with other drugs in the USA, he says.
in drug treatment at the Phoenix Academy in Dallas used
cheese, director Michelle Hemm says. One boy was 12 when he
started using it, she says.
expects to see more youths hooked on cheese, which is so
affordable "little kids can purchase it. Kids in here, they
all know lots of other kids using cheese. This is the tip of