A new study suggests heroin has surpassed methamphetamine as the drug of choice in Missouri.
People close to the world of drug addiction say heroin now accounts for 500 deaths a year in the Show-Me State.
A study at the University of Chicago says people have cycled away from the stimulants of cocaine and meth, and toward the depressant that is heroin.
"During a recession, people are more likely to use drugs," Kathie Kane-Willis, the study's author, said. "Ya know, they're looking for the quick solution, the escape, right, and to kill their pain."
Drug education programs, such as Jefferson City's Project Hope, seek to teach a new generation of heroin users the lessons learned in the '60s, but apparently forgotten about opiates since then.
But advocates, such as the group who demonstrated at the state capitol Tuesday, want more.
They want non-prescriptive access to pharmaceuticals that can fight the addiciton to heroin. And they want state lawmakers to pass a new Good Samaritan law that allows the friends and associates of people who overdose to seek help without fear of being arrested for possession or related crimes.
"This law would remove that fear and would give people the ability to save someone's life without going to prison, because calling for help should never be a crime," Chad Sabora of the STL Heroin Help organization said.
"People are being dropped off in ditches and at emergency rooms," Brenda Schell of the Missouri Recovery Network added. "And if we could get medical assistance to them quicker, then we could save lives."
The Good Samaritan law has a sponsor in the house, but advocates are still shopping for one in the state senate.