They all actually started off by abusing prescription opiates, but moved to heroin after they ran out of money.
However, my area is known for being a heroin hot spot. I live in a decent middle class town about 15 minutes away from Camden, NJ. My high school was known as "heroin high".
The problem with heroin is that there's very poor quality control. Overdoses seem to occur under one of the two following circumstances:
1. The person just gets released from rehab and relapses. Their tolerance isn't what it used to be, so their body gets shocked.
2. There's a sudden spike in the strength of the heroin that is "going around". The person may be used to a certain strength, so the more powerful batch can be enough to send them over the edge.
Just figured I'd add my own personal data points since it seemed like you were trying to deemphasize the danger of heroin by pointing out that you don't know anyone who died from it. Maybe, that wasn't your intention, so forgive me if so.
It was an absolutely astonishing time. Camden literally felt like it had just been through a war: desolate buildings, so many people homeless on the streets, people desperate for food. It's hard to describe just how bad this city was.
I can't diagnose all the root causes behind why Camden is so messed-up, but this pastor pointed to the heroin epidemic primarily.
You know, it always stuck in my craw that so much of the heroin in the new epidemic came/comes from Afghanistan... Shades of Vietnam.