Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin : Planet Money Scoring a fix is cheap and today's heroin is strong. But that's just part of the reason why America got hooked. Today on the show, we trace the roots of America's heroin epidemic.
NPR logo

Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/485921874/485935778" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/485921874/485935778" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Heroin usage is on the rise.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When we meet the heroin dealer called Bone, he has just shot up. He has a lot to say anyway. He tells us about his career--it pretty much tracks the evolution of drug use in America these past ten years or so. He tells us about his rough past. And he tells us about how he died a week ago. He overdosed on his own supply and his friend took his body to the emergency room, then left.

Bone's addiction is so fierce that he was looking for his next fix almost as soon as he left the hospital. In Bone's world, death isn't a deterrent. Death is an obsession, even an attraction. It means a higher high if you can get close to death.

And that is easy for Bone, because heroin is very cheap right now.

America is facing a heroin epidemic. Deaths from overdoses are about three times what they were a decade ago. Part of what is driving this is price. Part of it is newer, stronger heroin. Neither of those two factors are an accident.

Today on the show, how heroin became America's bargain drug and why so many people bought in. We hear from a dealer, a user and a DEA agent about the hurt, the want, and the twisted economic forces driving addiction.

Music: "My Name Is Trouble" and "Take It Back." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook