Calling heroin abuse in America an epidemic does little justice. The figures regarding its use, abuse, and overdose rates, both fatal and non-fatal, are bewildering. Over the last 15 years, heroin abuse rose from being a sincere issue to being an overwhelming tragedy. Five people died per day in the year 2001 from heroin overdoses, as reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2014, just thirteen years later, the number of people who died daily from heroin overdoses rose to 29. Nearly six times the number of people died, just thirteen years later.
THE HEROIN CRISIS
The government’s war on drugs pales in comparison to the war being fought between heroin and everyday people. Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that heroin abuse rates are rising most rapidly “…in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use.” The CDC also says those in metropolitan areas are most at-risk of becoming addicted to heroin, and that there has also been a significant increase of abuse in non-Hispanic whites, aged 18-25. So, according to the CDC in a report by US News, those most at risk are people in cities and young white adults. That seems to be a lot of people, mostly considering that every year the populations of metropolitan areas grow quickly.
Not only have heroin overdose rates sky-rocketed, so have abuse rates and first-time user rates. According to the same US News report aforementioned, the rate of heroin dependence literally doubled from 2002 to 2013. Let it be noted that these statistics take time to compile and verify, and so on a rather grim note, one can only imagine what these numbers will be for this year. Let us only pray that for 2017 and beyond we can end, or at least start to end, this heroin crisis.
OUR YOUTH NEEDS ATTENTION
Because child studies are handled differently and are more confidential, proven statistics regarding heroin (and other drug) abuse are more readily available for those aged 18 and over. That being said, our youth are the age-group most affected by heroin abuse in the 2000s. The CDC reports five times as many deaths from overdoses for those aged 18-25 from the year 2001 to the year 2013. Evidence proves our youth need the most attention regarding drug abuse, and this starts with education. If the perils and hardships of drug abuse are taught at a relatively early age, more so than now, compiled evidence suggests drug abuse rates will diminish.
Just because a young person either has not been exposed to or is not interested in the use of heroin does not mean that young person will not try it. Again according to the CDC, alcoholics are twice as likely to try heroin than non-addicts, marijuana abusers are three times as likely, cocaine abusers are 15 times as likely, and opioid abusers are 40 times as likely. The idea of a gateway drug should not be forgotten; it is proven.
A SAD CONCLUSION
The American Society of Addiction Medicine compiled a list of facts and figures regarding opioid addiction and overdose. According to it, drug overdose is the single leading cause of accidental death in the US. Over 47,000 occurred in 2014. Nearly half of them were opioid-based, with over 10,000 heroin-related. At that rate, it’s safe to say that you, the reader, or someone you know is in some way affected by heroin use. Let’s stop this problem today.