Addiction and the Opioid Epidemic

People of all backgrounds and socioeconomic levels are affected by addiction. In the United States today, the majority of drug overdose deaths involve an opioid, such as prescription painkillers or heroin. About two and a half million people are addicted to these drugs, and nearly 100 people die each day from an overdose. In fact, opioid use and overdose trends have grown so bad that the Department of Health & Human Services has labeled the problem an epidemic.

From 2002–2013, past month heroin use, past year heroin use, and heroin addiction have all increased among 18-25 year olds.  The number of people who started to use heroin in the past year is also trending up. Among new heroin users, approximately three out of four report abusing prescription opioids prior to using heroin. The increased availability, lower price, and increased purity of heroin in the US have been identified as possible contributors to rising rates of heroin use.   According to data from the DEA, the amount of heroin seized each year at the southwest border of the United States was approximately 500 kg during 2000–2008. This amount quadrupled to 2,196 kg in 2013.

Heroin-related deaths more than tripled between 2010 and 2015, with 12,989 heroin deaths in 2015. The largest increase in overdose deaths from 2014 to 2015 was for those involving synthetic opioids (other than methadone), which rose from 5,544 deaths in 2014 to 9,580 deaths in 2015. One of these synthetic opioids, illegally-made fentanyl, drove the increase. It was often mixed with heroin and/or cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge.  (data taken from the Center for Disease Control — “Understanding the Epidemic”).  Full details can be seen at www.cdc.gov.

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Suicide Awareness and Prevention

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