Drug Addiction

The Changing Face of Heroin Addiction

Heroin Addiction Replacing Prescription Drug Addiction as Leading Substance Abuse

heroine addictionThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a new and worrying trend. Heroin addiction is replacing prescription drug abuse as a leading drug problem. In fact, while heroin has been increasingly taking the lives of males and females both young and old with little racial distinction (Latino, black and white), those considered most at risk for heroin addiction are very different from those considered at highest risk a decade and a half ago.

The new CDC report is derived from the study of 2013 drug-related death certificates in which heroin was a risk component. Comparing the statistics with those of previous years the CDC identified a 400 percent rise in heroin deaths since 2002. In recent years the problem of heroin addiction has escalated exponentially. Just five years ago (2010) there were 3,000 reported heroin-related deaths. In 2012 that figure climbed to 5,925 heroin-associated deaths and by 2013 8,257 Americans were lost to a heroin-linked fatality.

While the number of heroin-related overdose deaths is trending upward, the age of overdose deaths is trending downward. Fifteen years ago heroin deaths occurred mostly among older (45-64 years) black males living in the West or Northeast. Today, the majority of heroin deaths occur among young (18-44 years), white, Midwest males.

Just what accounts for the shift remains unclear. There are some who believe that heroin use is rising in tandem with decreased access to prescription drugs and among those who were initially opioid abusers. The CDC however, reports that 96 percent of heroin users also take other drugs, often prescription drugs. This shows a possible link between prescription drug use and rising heroin addiction. Prescription drug abuse can work as an early clue to high risk for heroin use.

The good news is that treatment for heroin addiction is available. If heroin is affecting someone you love, don’t wait until they become a statistic. Contact Family Guidance Center and let us help.