Heroin use is becoming more widespread across Michigan, which is leading to the unfortunate uprising in overdose deaths. This phenomenon, according to experts, is due to the high cost of prescription painkillers and the inability for many junkies to track down a consistent supply.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, heroin overdose deaths across the state have increased from 271 between the years of 1999 and 2002 to 728 between 2010 and 2012. This insurgence is attributed to heroin become an affordable alternative to popular prescription narcotics, like OxyContin, which are sold illegally for $10 a milligram.

“The typical path you see with opiate addicts is that they start by abusing the prescription pain killers and then they become addicted to those pills,” Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Rich Isaacson told WOOD-TV. “That addiction can be very expensive because those pills on the street are very expensive. They will frequently devolve into using heroin because they can buy packs of heroin, hits of heroin on the street for much cheaper.”

This epidemic has Michigan legislators working to make Naloxone, a drug that reverses the lethal effects of heroin overdose, legally available with a prescription. EMT’s have used this drug for years to save lives, but now many states are taking measures to make it available to family members and friends of known heroin users.

“There isn’t enough access to this medication as there should be as evidence by so many people dying of opiate overdoses when there is this antidote that could be available to reverse and save people’s lives,” Steve Alsum, the executive director of the Grand Rapids Red Project, said in a recent interview.