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Posted on August 9th, 2017

Heroin use in US increased almost 5-fold in a decade, finds study

Heroin use in US increased almost 5-fold in a decade, finds study

The increasing prevalence of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use in the United States has emerged as a growing concern for health care providers, policy makers and the public. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 33,000 deaths in 2015 from prescription opioids and heroin. Between 2002 and 2015, there was a 6.2-fold increase in the total number of deaths caused by heroin, as reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Heroin use among American adults, as a recent survey suggested, witnessed a fivefold increase over the last decade. During the last 10 years, the heroin use among adult population (at some point in their life) increased from 0.33 percent to 1.6 percent, which amounted to 3.8 million Americans.

Misuse of prescription opioids linked to heroin abuse

The study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in May 2017 analyzed the data from two national U.S. surveys. The first one, carried out in 2001-02, involved around 43,000 adults while the other was conducted during 2012-13 on over 36,300 adults. Apart from a fivefold increase in the prevalence of lifetime heroin use, the study also highlighted a three-time increase in the number of adults who have ever had a heroin use disorder or dependence, which grew from 0.21 percent to 0.69 percent during the period under review.

Silvia Martins, lead author of the research from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health said, “There are more people in the US using heroin, there are more people that meet criteria for heroin addiction, and we are seeing increases in all different social strata, in different age groups, in both sexes.”

Furthermore, the researchers also hinted an association between misuse of prescription opioids and heroin abuse. People with prescription opioid misuse were found to be more vulnerable to initiate heroin use than people who had never used them. The authors pointed out multiple factors that contributed to the growing menace of heroin misuse. One among them was the recent policies introduced to discourage over-prescription of opioids and their subsequent misuse. Martins emphasized that people who were not able to access the medication in the ‘legal’ market would end up exploring the illegal market, where street heroin was available at cheap rates. It was found that the number of adults using heroin grew for all frequencies of prescription opioid misuse, and was irrespective of a previous history of other drug use.

The research indicated a steep rise in heroin use, dependence or abuse among adults who were males and whites, had a lower income or lower education, or were not married. In addition, adults under the age of 45 were more likely to indulge in heroin abuse or dependence compared to older adults. The researchers highlighted the need for effective training programs for medical professionals including using CDC’s guidelines for prescription of opioids. Moreover, it is also important to assess the efficacy of prescription drug monitoring programs, expansion of medication-based treatment programs for addiction and imparting education about addiction treatments.

Treatment of heroin misuse and dependence

In order to control the casualties caused by heroin misuse, health care system should follow right protocols recommended by scientific evidences for prescribing opioids and/or treating its dependence and misuse. People battling addiction-related problems should be proactive in gaining right information related to harmful effects of heroin misuse and available treatment alternatives.

A comprehensive treatment that includes detox, psychotherapies, relapse prevention plans and experiential therapies like yoga and meditation will help an individual in recovering from addiction. Detoxification, for example, is the first line of treatment for addiction. It helps to remove the harmful toxins accumulated in the body due to drug abuse. Moreover, managing the painful withdrawal symptoms becomes easier under clinically controlled conditions.

If you know anyone addicted to prescription opioids or heroin or any other drug, the NAD/NTR Detox of Arizona offers all necessary information related to the best drug detox treatment centers in Arizona. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-593-8453 or chat with our counselor to get details about heroin detox in Arizona.