(LiveScience) In quaint New England towns, where white-spired churches dot a landscape of rolling farmland and leafy forests, local residents and government officials are alarmed over a deadly scourge more often linked to gritty urban ghettos: heroin addiction.

In January, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his entire State of the State message to heroin, calling it “a crisis bubbling just beneath the surface.” The number of babies born with opiate addiction at Vermont hospitals has increased tenfold since 2002, according to The Boston Globe. Equally grim statistics have come from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and elsewhere in the region.

The death of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a heroin overdose in February cast a harsh spotlight on heroin abuse in the United States and elsewhere, though few people actually know what heroin is or how it works.

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