A new survey has found that US heroin addiction more than doubled over the space of 10 years among white people and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdose levels also soared to 8,200 – twice as many as in 2011.
CDC health officials said that the US is in the grip of a heroin
epidemic, with abuse of the drug doubling among 18-25 year olds,
doubling for women, and rising among white people by 114 percent
over a decade from 2002 to 2013. The survey also found heroin use
to have increased across America within most demographics – men,
women, most age groups and all income levels.
Researchers also noted a 60 percent uptick in the abuse of the
drug among people with higher incomes.
Overall, the number of people using heroin grew by 300,000
between 2002 and 2013.
There are currently about 500,000 people addicted to the drug in
the US, the CDC stated in its Vital Signs report. The data comes from an annual
national face-to-face survey the CDC conducted with 67,000
Americans, and includes comparisons with data from The National
Survey on Drug Use and Health.
“Not only are people using heroin, they are also abusing
multiple other substances, especially cocaine and prescription
opioid painkillers,” said CDC health officials in the
The survey found that more than nine in 10 people
were using heroin alongside at least one other drug, and 45
percent of people who used heroin were addicted to prescription
The survey found that the increased availability and lower price
of heroin has been identified as a potential contributor to the
rising rates of use. The Drug Enforcement Administration said the
amount of heroin seized each year has quadrupled, from 500
kilograms from 2002-2008 to 2,196 kilograms in 2013. The increase
of supply also led to a decline in price and an increase in
purity. Heroin currently costs five times less than painkillers
do, while having many of the same active ingredients.
The other factor driving use is legislation enacted concerning
prescription opioids. Fatal poisonings and emergency room visits
from prescription opioids more than doubled to 300,000 nationwide
between 2004 and 2008, leading to a rush of laws to limit use.
Under the new rules, primary care doctors consult with
board-certified pain specialists before prescribing daily
morphine-equivalent doses of 120mg or greater, and this marked
the first dosage threshold of its kind in the United States. As a
result, people began looking for other alternatives.