ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Mayor Slay’s brother Leo, who is in his late 40s and accused of heroin possession, is older than most heroin suspects in the area, according to a Washington University expert on the drug.

“While someone in their 30s or 40s is a little bit late to start,” said Dr. Ted Cicero, professor of psychology at Washington University School of Medicine, “it’s not at all uncommon to see someone start with painkillers in their 20s and then graduate into heroin use.”

Cicero says of the “tens-of-thousands” of heroin users in the St. Louis area, probably only one in ten are in their 40s. That, he says, is because most longtime heroin users “burnout” and can no longer take the drug.

“People who have been snorting heroin for some period of time, their nasal passages start to breakdown,” Cicero said, “Or if they I.V. inject, which is now becoming the preferred route of administration , they actually lose the capacity to find the veins big enough.”

Leo Slay was arrested on the parking lot of the River City Casino on Sunday afternoon, after witnesses complained of several hit and run accidents Slay was accused of. The Missouri Highway Patrol says Slay also faces charges for violating an earlier probation for cocaine. The Post Dispatch was reporting Slay had also failed to appear in court in May on a drug paraphernalia charge, and an arrest warrant had been issued for him.

Cicero says most heroin users in the area are young, in their 20s.

“It’s a very unfortunate trend we’re seeing. It began with prescription opiate pain medication and it’s now graduated to heroin,” Cicero said, “We’ve seen and interviewed a number of people who are on heroin that are not typical heroin users. These are college-educated kids in their mid-twenties and they never thought they’d be hooked on it.”

Cicero warns that anyone who tries heroin even once “open the doorway” to an addiction that very few users ever escape.

“Typically individuals end up ruining their lives and become a slave to heroin,” Cicero said.

Cicero says in recent years there have been 20-to-30 heroin overdoses deaths in the St. Louis area.

“These are occurring in areas where we least would expect it, suburban areas, kids being found dead.”

Leo Slay is one of five brothers of Mayor Francis Slay.

Copyright KMOX


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