“The trend isn’t a surprise the takeaway is what matters. Heroin use disorder is a serious medical condition with which individuals are likely to struggle for the rest of their life. We need to give them the tools they need to survive and thrive,” said Banta-Green.
Heroin use among white people has tripled since 2001 – New Study
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, In 2015, 52,404 people died from drug overdoses. 63% percent of those deaths involved an opioid.
More people die from drug overdoses than from guns or car accidents. At the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1995, 43,115 people in the United States died from the disease.
Furthermore, since 1999, the number of overdoses from prescription opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illicit drugs like heroin, have quadrupled. In fact, heroin now accounts for one in four overdose deaths in the United States.
Now, a new study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry looks beyond the total number of overdose deaths to get a better picture of how heroin use patterns have changed since 2001. Since then, the number of people who have used heroin has increased almost five-fold, and the number of people who abuse heroin has approximately tripled. The greatest increases in use occurred among white males.
The authors evaluated the responses of 79,402 individuals, as collected from the 2001-2002 and the 2012-2013 National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, a longitudinal study conducted by the National Institutes of Health to evaluate alcohol and drug use and abuse.
While heroin use between whites and non-whites was fairly similar in the 2001-2002 results, at 0.34% and 0.32% respectively, by 2012-2013 the percentage of whites who had used heroin jumped to 1.90%. Just 1.05% of non-whites in 2012-2013 used heroin.
Heroin use also increased significantly among those with a high school education or less, as well as those who lived at less than 100% of the federal poverty line. The authors of the new report write “these trends are concerning because increases in the prevalence of heroin use and use disorder have been occurring among vulnerable individuals who have few resources to overcome problems associated with use.”
The findings of these new reports are in line with earlier research over the past two decades about increasing heroin and opioid overdoses.