A new federal report released Tuesday shows that heroin is basically everywhere. The use has increased across the U.S. among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Rates (CDC) some of the most startling increase occurred in “demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use”: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.
Heroin use more than doubled
Data released by CDC show that between 2002 and 2013 heroin use more than doubled among young adults ages 18–25 in the past decade. More than 9 in 10 people who used heroin also used at least one other drug and 45% were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.
Furthermore, as the rate of abuse doubled among women, it also went up 50 percent among men during the same time period. With more people using – and abusing – prescription painkillers, heroin has turned into a cheap and more easily available alternative.
Link between prescription painkillers and increase of heroin use
Although the absolute numbers are still low — fewer than 1 percent of people abuse heroin – drug abuse overall is up.
“They are addicted to prescription opiates because they are essentially the same chemical with the same effect on the brain as heroin,” CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said at a press conference. “Heroin costs roughly 5 times less than prescription opiates on the street.”
With an increase of heroin use, overdose-related deaths are also on the rise. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013.
Who is most at risk of heroin addiction?
The people who are most at risk of heroin addiction have been identified as those addicted to other drugs or substances, those living in large metropolitan areas, people without insurance or enrolled in Medicals and youngsters between 18-25 years of age.
What can states do to fight against the heroin epidemic?
CDC urged states to address the strongest risk factor for heroin addiction: addiction to prescription opioid painkillers. Other preventive methods include increasing access to substance abuse treatment services and help local jurisdictions to put effective practices to work in communities where heroin addiction is particularly common.