Heroin Use in U.S. Reaches Epidemic Levels

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Article By: Alexandra Sifferlin

Heroin use in the United States has skyrocketed, spreading to include groups who previously were less likely to abuse the drug. New data released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) show that heroin use increased 63% between 2002 & 2013, & heroin-related overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled over the same time period. In 2013 an estimated 517,000 people reported that they had used heroin in the last year or had a heroin-related dependence, a 150% increase from 2007. More than 8,200 people died of heroin-related overdose in 2013, according to national surveys published in the CDC’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

While heroin use continues to be most common among men between the ages of 18 & 25 who make less than $20,000, the CDC researchers note that in recent years people in nearly every demographic group are using the drug more. For instance, heroin use has doubled among women & non-Hispanic white people.

“Heroin use has increased rapidly across the U.S. & throughout society,” said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden during a press conference. “W/that increase we are seeing a dramatic rise in deaths.”

Addiction to prescription pain killers may be fueling some of the rise in heroin use. As TIME has reported, people who are addicted to painkillers may make the switch to heroin since it’s cheaper, doesn’t require a prescription, & offers a similar high. According to the CDC, those who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin.

“Most heroin users have a history of nonmedical use of prescription opioid pain relievers, & an increase in the rate of heroin overdose deaths has occurred concurrently w/an epidemic of prescription opioid overdoses,” the study authors write.

The report also shows that Americans using heroin are likely to be using other drugs. People addicted to cocaine are also 15 times more likely to be addicted to heroin. And the latest data shows that 96% of people who used heroin in the last year reported using at least 1 other drug during the same period, with 61% reporting they used at least 3 different drugs.

The CDC says comprehensive interventions need to happen at the federal & state levels, & health care providers need to follow best practices prescribe pain killers responsibly. As part of that effort, the government is increasing access to substance abuse treatment under the Affordable Care Act & increasing education & training for providers. States can address the problem by implementing prescription drug monitoring programs & expanding access to opioid overdose antidote naloxone, the CDC says.

View full article at: http://time.com/3946904/heroin-epidemic/

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