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Heroin Statistics in America: A Decade of Abuse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 24.6 million Americans (9.4% of the population) had used an illicit drug in the past month in 2013. One of these illicit drugs is heroin, which is defined as “an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia.” The drug addiction rates today are much higher than the drug addiction statistics 2013, and many studies aim to find out why.

One study found that the amount of adults using heroin in America has increased almost fivefold in the last ten years. Only 0.33% of the adult population reported that they have used heroin at some point in their life in the year 2000, but this number has risen to 1.6% just ten years later (which is about 3.8 million Americans).

Silvia Martins from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health was the lead author of this research study. “There are more people in the US using heroin, there are more people that meet criteria for heroin addiction, and we are seeing increases in all different social strata, in different age groups, both sexes,” said Martins.

One component found in this research was the inclination for certain groups to be affected by this more likely than others; white individuals had a greater increase in heroin use than non-white individuals — their sixfold increase rose from 0.34% to 1.9% over those ten years. The drug statistics in America are becoming increasingly alarming with the rising numbers.

Heroin Abuse & Prescription Opioid Misuse

This study also describes the connections between heroin abuse and prescription opioid misuse. “It is already well established that after prescription opioids became widely available as prescription drugs in the US in the early 90s, we see an increase in prescription opioid misuse. People that misuse prescription opioids are more likely to transition to initiate heroin use than people that have never used them,” said Martins.

The transition from the “legal market” of prescription opioid medications to the “illegal market” of heroin abuse is affecting individuals across the United States. Historically, physicians wouldn’t prescribe opioids to non-white individuals when these medications were becoming more prevalent in society. This is ironic because now, studies are showing the definite increase in the amount of white individuals with these drug problems.

One article from the NIDA explains how prescription opioid use can be a risk factor for heroin use in the future:

“A study of young, urban injection drug users interviewed in 2008 and 2009 found that 86 percent had used opioid pain relievers non-medically prior to using heroin, and their initiation into non-medical use was characterized by three main sources of opioids: family, friends, or personal prescriptions. This rate represents a shift from historical trends. Of people entering treatment for heroin addiction who began abusing opioids in the 1960s, more than 80 percent started with heroin. Of those who began abusing opioids in the 2000s, 75 percent reported that their first opioid was a prescription drug. Examining national-level general population heroin data (including those in and not in treatment), nearly 80 percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids prior to heroin.”

If you or a loved one is suffering from drug abuse, get help as soon as possible. Call SAFE Prevention today at 1-877-503-2608 to learn more about addiction treatment and prevention. At SAFE Prevention, you will be able to find the resources you need to overcome your unique situation and achieve long-term recovery.


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