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A new report by the Missouri Recovery Network shows heroin use in the state is rising as opiates become more expensive to acquire. Most users are young, white and female, The Kansas City Star reports.

"It's getting to be an epidemic down here," said Bobby Burns, residential director for the Mission Missouri recovery project. "You can get a bag of heroin for $10. That's what people are doing when they can't afford the pills."

The researchers say that the problem is worse in eastern Missouri, but is headed to Kansas City where heroin availability has significantly increased since 2007.

In the St. Louis area, heroin has become the most widely seized drug after marijuana, the article notes.

"Areas where you would never think you'd see heroin," said Brenda Schell of the Missouri Recovery Network. "But that's exactly what is happening. It's here in Missouri, and the same thing will happen in Kansas. It's working its way west."

The new study does not differentiate between heroin and opiates in its hospitalization data, but it found that females are fuelling the increase in heroin use -- accounting for over 40 percent of those seeking rehabilitation treatment. Sixty percent of those seeking publicly funded treatment is white, and 30 percent are African American.