A controversial decision to pull the highly addictive drug Oxycontin from pharmacy shelves seems to have pushed some users to try heroin.

It’s been nearly six months since Oxycontin was delisted by the province, and drug support groups in Guelph say there’s evidence users there are looking for alternatives.

And it is older users who’ve reportedly been slower to adapt, leading to more overdoses.

Leandra, a recovering drug user who doesn’t want her last name used, says she’s tried both and there’s a big difference.

“It could have just that little bit more [heroin] and you could flatline…I definitely think it’s the older population that is more thrown off by [Oxycontin] being taken away.”

Police in Guelph say they have noticed the same trend.

Garry Male, an investigative support services inspector with Guelph police, says “There’s always the risk that people who are not used to using a particular substance, aren’t used to it, don’t have the tolerance.”

Guelph’s treatment community has anecdotal reports of five to six heroin overdoses per week.

While police can’t confirm the numbers they say there’s definitely more heroin on the street.

At Stonehenge Therapeutic Community, an in-patient drug treatment house, they are noticing the overdoses.

And director Heather Kerr says they are also expecting to get more calls from people looking for treatment for heroin addiction.

“That’s what happened with crystal meth, that’s what happened in the past with crack-cocaine, so when you see changes in the drugs that people use on the street, there’s a bit of a delay and…you’re going to see a difference in terms of types of drugs people come into the program on.”

Those involved in drug treatment say a comprehensive approach will likely be needed to curb the rise in heroin use.

And Leandra cautions those thinking about using it that its unpredictability could be fatal.

“Even if you get [500 mg] - just a bag of heroin – even if you get five from the same person, it’s not going to be the same.”

A report is expected in less than a week outlining some of the steps communities can take to combat heroin and drug addition.