Heroin use on the rise across the U.S., Grand Strand

New evidence is emerging about the death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

ABC News has learned there were roughly 70 baggies of heroin in Hoffman's apartment when he was found dead, five of them used.

Police also discovered used syringes and numerous prescription drugs including anxiety medication and muscle relaxers.

Drug agents say Hoffman's death is a sign of the re-emergence of the dangerous drug.

A national drug survey shows heroin use increased 79 percent from 2007 to 2012.

The trend is showing up on the Grand Strand, according to local drug enforcement agents.

Heroin is an opiate made from the poppy plant that produces an effect on the brain similar to that of powerful prescription pain pills.

"When you take heroin it gives you a sense of euphoria, you feel as if nothing's wrong, you feel great," said Dean Bishop, an undercover officer with the 15th Judicial Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit.

Bishop says because heroin is so much like prescription medications, it's made a comeback across the country and in Horry County.

"What happens is, these people who are hooked on prescription medications a lot of times will migrate to the heroin because of the availability of heroin," said Bishop. "Typically it's a little bit cheaper and easier to get than prescription medications."

Bishop says heroin can cost between $10 and $35 per hit in our area.

Most of what he sees is powdered heroin and it's often "cut" or mixed with other substances, like products you might see in nutrition stores, to make more money for the dealer.

Why is heroin easier to get than prescription drugs? That's a good question, Bishop says.

"I don't really have a good answer for that. It's just that we have a lot of it coming into this area from up north."

Heroin busts in the 15th Circuit have see-sawed over the years, from 1332 grams seized in 2009, down to 601 in 2012 and back up to 812 last year.

But the overall trend is upward, Bishop says, and to him that's scary.

"It's extremely dangerous, it's extremely addictive. Heroin, in my professional opinion, scares me a little bit more than cocaine does. It's a lot more addictive than cocaine."

Bishop says a person's first high from heroin is the most powerful. The next one is not as good, so an addict needs to keep taking more of it to get the same fix.

That's why it's so dangerous.