July 24, 2015

CDC Reports Increase in Heroin Use

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported sharp increases in heroin usage across most demographic groups over the last decade. Among the more startling findings:
  • between 2002 and 2013, the rate of overdose deaths related to heroin nearly quadrupled, with nearly 8,200 people in 2013 dying of overdose;
  • during that same time frame, there is a 50% increase in the percentage of men using the drug (2.4% to 3.6%) and a 100% increase in the percentage of women using it (0.8% to 1.6%); and
  • there is more than a 100% increase in the heroin usage rate among people ages 18 to 25 (3.5% to 7.3%).
The CDC’s research also shows that heroin users typically use at least one other drug, and most used at least three other drugs.

As noted in an NPR article discussing the report, Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the CDC, says that the heroin epidemic is linked to opioid painkiller use. According to the CDC study, people who abuse painkillers are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin.