EDMONTON -- Heroin use is fading out in Canada, but Edmonton addicts are increasingly turning to "hillbilly heroin" to bring them down from cocaine and meth highs, say cops and outreach workers.
"Three or four years ago you didn't hear about it at all," said JoAnn McCartney, an addictions counsellor.
"Now it's easy to get on the street, easier than heroin."
Hillbilly heroin, so-called because of its relatively low cost, refers to a range of prescription painkillers used illicitly.
Cocaine and meth cause users to go a long time without sleeping and eating.
"So you alternate (with hillbilly heroin) -- one is to get you up and the other is to get you down."
A recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found heroin use is virtually now only an issue in the port cities of Vancouver and Montreal.
In Edmonton, where heroin use is virtually nil, painkillers are the opiates of choice, said the study.