Understanding the Heroin Epidemic

Last Updated: Feb 24th 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Understanding the Heroin Epidemic

The opioid epidemic came to the forefront in 2016. Early in the year, President Obama promised to use $1.1 billion to fund the fight against opioid abuse. However, the presence of prescription painkiller abuse and the heroin epidemic won’t just appear overnight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking the use of and deaths from opioids for decades. Many people know that prescriptions painkillers make up a large portion of opioid abuse cases. However, they may not fully understand the extent of heroin abuse across the country and how fast the epidemic is growing.

Statistics of the Heroin Epidemic

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that it seized about 500 kilograms of heroin every year at the country’s southwest border between 2000 and 2008. In 2013, it seized 2,196 kilograms, which is more than four times the amount of just five years prior.

Nationwide, the amount of heroin that the DEA seized each year from 2010 to 2014 increased 81.5% from 2,763 kilograms to 5,014 kilograms. The average size of a seizure also increased during that period from 0.86 kilograms to 1.74 kilograms.

The CDC reports that more than twice as many people age 18 to 25 were using heroin between 2011 and 2013 compared to between 2002 and 2004. The number of people who used the drug in the month and year prior to the survey also jumped. With these increases, there was also a rise in cases of addiction to the opiate.

Additionally, overdose deaths from heroin abuse increased 286% between 2002 and 2013 to more than 8,200 people. From 2010 to 2015, the number of people who died from heroin abuse more than tripled to nearly 13,000 people.

Other Drug Use Increases the Likelihood of Heroin Use

Heroin abuse has become such an epidemic because of its availability and relatively low cost. Additionally, heroin is a purer form of an opiate than prescription pills and has a more potent effect. Although these factors contribute to increased use, the abuse of other drugs is also a factor.

Nearly everyone who uses heroin has used at least one other drug. In most cases, individuals with heroin addiction use at least three other drugs.

According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, people addicted to alcohol are twice as likely to use heroin. They are three times as likely if they have marijuana addiction and 15 times as likely if they have a cocaine addiction. The likelihood jumps to 40 times if they’re addicted to opioid painkillers.

Heroin Treatment at 1st Step Behavioral Health

Whether or not someone uses other drugs, they need to seek treatment for heroin addiction. This dangerous drug causes damage not only to health but also to the relationships and financial well-being of users.

If you or a loved one have an addiction to heroin, you can find treatment at 1st Step Behavioral Health. In a caring atmosphere, the staff works with you to determine the root cause of your addiction. Your primary care therapist will create a customized course of treatment. This is based on the treatment program that works best for your needs and may include one of the following:

  • Inpatient
  • Outpatient
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Intensive outpatient

Don’t let the heroin epidemic damage your life. Take control of the addiction by getting help from the staff at 1st Step Behavioral Health. Call (866) 971-5531 now to start your treatment plan.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.