The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has brought to light increased heroin use. The drug, often thought to be reserved for hardcore users, is now becoming less taboo -- even making its way into social scenes across college campuses.
Austin Wolfe, a sophomore at La Salle University, recently lost his older brother, Justin, to a heroin addiction. Although Justin had abused other drugs, such as prescription pills, Austin was nevertheless shocked to learn his brother used heroin.
"There's no way my brother is that type of kid," Wolfe said. "He's outgoing and smart.” Justin was only 21 when he passed away last year.
Claudia Shapiro, a student at the University Of Wisconsin-Madison, lost one of her closest friends, Thibault, just a few months ago because of a heroin overdose.
"I was absolutely devastated," Shapiro disclosed on HuffPost Live, adding, "He was a theatre student... so talented, so intelligent.”
The 2012 National College Health Assessment survey found nearly one in five students believed there were heroin users on their campus, according to USA Today, and 1,300 out of the 76,481 surveyed admitted to trying it.
Dr. Victor Schwartz, The Jed Foundation's medical director, hypothesized that the rise in heroin use among young adults can be attributed to an increased use and availability of prescription narcotics to college-aged adults in the past 5-10 years. As narcotics have become more expensive and harder to obtain, many users are turning to heroin.
"People have shifted from pills to the more direct form of heroin, really chasing the high," Schwartz said.
Lindsey Dulian, a college student at Argosy University near Chicago, has lost numerous friends to heroin addictions. Dulian started "Take A Stand," a group to provide support and reduce the stigma of addiction. When asked why so many young students are using heroin, Dulian responded, "It’s not so scary anymore. ... It's desirable.
"It's a better high for a lot of kids," Dulian said. "It is sort of a party drug now."
Watch a clip from the discussion above or view the whole segment here.