The Heroin and Opioid Epidemic
At this point, it would be almost impossible not to have heard at least passing news reports about the heroin and opioid epidemic that’s gripped the U.S.
Heroin and opioids have wreaked havoc on so many families and communities throughout the country, from inner cities to suburbs and rural areas.
Much of the opioid epidemic is fueled by the use of prescription drugs, but also illicit street drugs like heroin.
So how do heroin and opioids work? What makes them so addictive, and what are the important facts to know about the heroin and opioid epidemic?
- More than 90 people die in the U.S. each day from an opioid overdose
- The economic burden is predicted to be more than $78 billion annually in the U.S. due to healthcare, addiction treatment, criminal justice involvement and other related costs
- The CDC and the government place much of the blame for the opioid epidemic on prescription painkiller manufacturers, citing the fact that in the late 1990s these companies told the medical community patients wouldn’t become addicted to these drugs and it became common for them to be prescribed.
- Before it was even realized what was happening on a widespread level, there was abuse of prescription opioids because of how addictive they turned out to be
- In 2015 there were more than 33,000 U.S. deaths attributed to heroin and opioids as well as fentanyl, which is an illegally manufactured opioid that’s incredibly potent
- The heroin and opioid epidemic is now believed to include more around two million people in the U.S. alone who have substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers
- It’s estimated that anywhere from 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed prescription opioids abuse them, and of those anywhere from 8 to 12 percent develop a substance abuse problem
- Around 4 to 6 percent of people who abuse prescription opioids are believed to then move on to heroin
- 80 percent of people who use heroin started with prescription painkillers
- Because of the prevalence of people using heroin and opioids, it has become one of the most pressing public health issues in America, and along with opioid abuse and overdoses and deaths, there’s been increasing focus on the issue of infants born addicted to opioids because their mother used these drugs while pregnant
- The heroin and opioid epidemic has also led to an increase in infectious diseases like hepatitis C and aids because of the sharing of unclean needles
Have more questions about Heroin abuse?Read the most frequently asked questions
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