A new report released by the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showcases worrying data concerning heroin use in the U.S.
The numbers are crystal clear: heroin use and heroin deaths are becoming increasingly common even among groups which have historically low drug abuse rates.
Doctor Tom Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated:
“Heroin use is increasing at an alarming rate in many parts of society, driven by both the prescription opioid epidemic and cheaper, more available heroin”.
In order to reverse this increase in heroin use and deaths, an overarching effort and response is necessary. Dr. Tom Frieden suggested that opioid prescribing is improved in order to prevent substance addiction. At the same time, expanding access for effective treatment for people who fell victim to addiction needs to become an urgent reality. Naloxone is also a treatment that effectively reverses heroin overdose.
While the CDC report showcases numbers that cover the U.S., at a more local level, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also mirrors the same alarming number in heroin use and deaths. In New York City, heroin deaths due to overdose doubled in the past four years.
The analysis conducted by CDC and the FDA revealed that the age group most prone to heroin use is between 18 and 25 years old. In the past ten years, the rate of heroin use increased twofold. Sadly, an increase in heroin use also led to an increase in heroin deaths – four times over the same decade.
In 2013 alone, 8,200 deaths among heroin users were due to overdose. The most prevalent risk factor leading to heroin use was the addiction to prescription-obtained opioid painkillers. The report found that those became addicted to opioid painkillers had a 40 times higher likelihood of becoming addicted to heroin use.
As for other drugs, marijuana abuse also led to three times higher likelihood of heroin addiction. While approximately all heroin users were reported to use at least one drug prior to becoming addicted to heroin, use, the majority reported to have used at least three.
More demographic data compared the historically low-risk groups to the groups at a higher risk of becoming addicted to heroin use.
People between the ages of 18 and 25, non-Hispanic whites and generally men, as well as uninsured people or covered by Medicaid, and those that had a yearly household income under 20,000 dollars are the historically high-risk groups.
Nonetheless, in the past 10 years, others have joined the ranks, significantly narrowing the gap. Women, people coming from high income households and covered by private insurance are all in the statistics now for heroin use.
Even more worrying is that the CDC report might not be sufficiently accurate. Homeless people, inmates and military personnel were not included in the demographic.
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