Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death from an apparent heroin overdose has drawn attention to the drug’s rising popularity in the U.S. Fueled by a market for opiates driven by prescription painkillers, along with a boom in supply from Latin American cartels that has made heroin less expensive and more accessible, use of the drug jumped almost 80% from 2007 to 2012, according to federal statistics. Overdose deaths are up over 40%.
“The most important driver behind the increase in the number of people using heroin is, it’s cheap, widely available and pure enough to snort,” says Dr. Melinda Campopiano of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Once considered a largely urban problem, heroin use has experienced an uptick in suburban and rural areas, officials say.
This appears in the February 17, 2014 issue of TIME.