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Heroin: Small cities, even rural towns face growing problems

For many communities, the extent of heroin addiction comes as a shock. Yet efforts to confront it, including town-hall meetings and support groups, are slowly gaining ground.

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For years, heroin was considered an affliction mainly of poor urban neighborhoods. But these days, the drug is becoming popular in affluent suburbs, small cities, and even rural towns – especially among young people.

From Arizona to New Jersey, many communities that never imagined they would have a heroin problem now face a rising toll of addiction, overdoses, and even deaths.

“You would have to go pretty remote to find a place that didn’t have this,” says Kathleen Kane-Willis, a researcher at Roosevelt University in Chicago who has tracked heroin use since 2004. “It’s just everywhere.”

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But for communities and in particular parents, the problem can come as a total surprise.

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