Experts say Yates and others in this town of about 38,000 southeast of Columbus are on the leading edge of a frightening new drug abuse trend – one that is ironically being fueled by a national crackdown on prescription painkillers. While new regulations and law enforcement efforts have significantly reduced the supply of these drugs, they say, those efforts have inadvertently driven many users to another type of opiate that is cheap, powerful and perhaps even more destructive – heroin. “It’s an epidemic,” said Dr. Joe Gay, director of the regional addiction and mental health clinic Health Recovery Services, who has studied patterns of drug use in the state.
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