56 Heroin Statistics

Heroin addiction is a growing problem in the United States. Here are some eye-opening statistics about heroin use and addiction

Published On

October 1, 2023

Heroin addiction is a growing problem in the United States. Here are some eye-opening statistics about heroin use and addiction:

Top 10 Key Heroin Statistics

  1. Heroin use has increased significantly in recent years, with an estimated 886,000 people in the U.S. reporting heroin use in the past year.
  2. The number of heroin users has more than doubled since 2002.
  3. The average age of first-time heroin users is just 23 years old.
  4. Opioid addiction has become a major public health crisis in recent years, with millions of people worldwide struggling with substance abuse disorders.
  5. In the United States alone, over 10 million people misused prescription opioids in 2019.
  6. Opioid overdoses are now responsible for more deaths than car crashes in the United States. In 2020, there were over 69,000 overdose deaths in the U.S., many of which involved opioids.
  7. The economic cost of the opioid epidemic is estimated to be over $500 billion annually in the U.S. alone, including healthcare costs, lost productivity, and criminal justice expenses.
  8. Heroin use is particularly prevalent among certain demographics, including young adults aged 18-25 and people who are unemployed or have low incomes.
  9. Heroin use is also associated with a higher risk of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C, as well as mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
  10. The opioid epidemic has had a significant impact on children and families. In 2017 alone, over 23,000 babies were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) due to exposure to opioids in the womb.

Heroin Overdoses

  • Heroin overdose deaths have increased by more than 500% since 2002. In 2019, there were over 14,000 overdose deaths involving heroin in the United States.
  • Heroin is involved in a significant number of opioid overdose deaths. In 2019, opioids were involved in over 49,000 overdose deaths in the U.S., and heroin was involved in around 25% of those deaths.
  • Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl have also been on the rise. In 2019, there were over 36,000 overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, and many of these deaths were linked to illicitly-manufactured fentanyl.
  • Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a serious problem affecting millions of people worldwide. In the U.S., an estimated 1.6 million people had OUD in 2019.
  • The economic cost of opioid misuse and addiction is staggering. In the U.S. alone, the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse is estimated to be $78.5 billion per year, including healthcare costs, lost productivity, and criminal justice expenses.

Heroin Use in U.S.

  • In 2019, an estimated 10.1 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids, including heroin.
  • Heroin is often used in combination with other drugs, such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, which can increase the risk of overdose and death.
  • The majority of heroin users (about 80%) report using prescription opioids prior to using heroin.
  • Approximately 4-6% of people who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin use.
  • The Northeast region of the U.S. has the highest rates of both heroin use and overdose deaths involving heroin.
  • Overdose deaths involving heroin have increased among all age groups, races, and ethnicities in recent years.

Heroin Addiction

  • 23% of people who try heroin will become addicted.
  • Heroin addiction is one of the most difficult addictions to overcome, with a relapse rate of over 80%.
  • Heroin addiction is often linked to other forms of substance abuse. In the U.S., over 90% of people with heroin addiction also have at least one other substance use disorder.
  • The opioid epidemic has had a significant impact on children and families. In 2017 alone, over 23,000 babies were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) due to exposure to opioids in the womb.
  • Heroin use is associated with a higher risk of criminal justice involvement. In the U.S., over 50% of people who are incarcerated have a history of opioid addiction.

Heroin and Crime

  • Over half of people arrested for drug offenses tested positive for heroin in 2018.
  • Heroin use is often linked to criminal activity, including theft, prostitution, and violence.
  • The cost of drug-related crime in the U.S. is estimated to be over $100 billion per year.
  • Heroin trafficking is a major source of revenue for organized crime groups around the world. The global heroin market is estimated to be worth over $30 billion annually.
  • Heroin use is associated with a higher risk of overdose. In 2019, there were over 49,000 overdose deaths involving opioids in the U.S., many of which were related to heroin use.
  • The opioid epidemic has had a significant impact on public safety. In the U.S., the rate of opioid-related fatal car crashes has increased by over 200% since 2010.
  • Law enforcement efforts to address heroin use and trafficking have been criticized for their punitive approach and racial disparities. Black Americans are more likely to be arrested for drug offenses than white Americans, despite similar rates of drug use across racial groups.

Heroin Prevalence Statistics

  • Heroin use is more common among men than women, with 0.4% of males and 0.2% of females reporting heroin use in the past year.
  • The Northeast region of the United States has the highest rate of heroin use, with 0.6% of people reporting heroin use in the past year.
  • Among those who reported using heroin in the past year, over half also reported misusing prescription opioids.
  • In 2019, there were over 10,000 heroin-related overdose deaths among adults aged 25-34 in the United States.
  • Overdose deaths involving heroin are more common among non-Hispanic white individuals than other racial or ethnic groups in the U.S.
  • The number of people seeking treatment for heroin addiction has increased significantly in recent years, with a 23% increase between 2007 and 2017.
  • Injection drug use is a common route of administration for heroin users, with an estimated 70-80% of people who use heroin reporting injection as their preferred method of use.

Heroin Abuse Statistics by Age

  • The highest rate of heroin use is among young adults aged 18-25, with 0.8% reporting past-year use in 2019.
  • In 2019, the rate of past-year heroin use among people aged 26 or older was lower than that of young adults but still significant, with 0.3% of adults aged 26-34 and 0.2% of those aged 35 or older reporting use.
  • Among adolescents aged 12-17, the rate of past-year heroin use was relatively low in comparison to other age groups, with just 0.1% reporting use in 2019.
  • However, among adolescents who misuse prescription opioids, the risk of transitioning to heroin use is high - an estimated 4-6% of people who misuse prescription opioids will eventually turn to heroin.
  • Younger age at first opioid use is associated with a higher risk of developing opioid addiction later on - people who start using opioids before age 18 are more likely to develop addiction than those who start using at a later age.
  • The number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) due to exposure to opioids in the womb has been increasing dramatically in recent years - from just over 1 per thousand hospital births in 2000 to over 7 per thousand hospital births in 2014.

Heroin Abuse Statistics by Gender

  • Heroin abuse affects both men and women, but there are some gender differences in patterns of use and addiction.
  • According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 0.3% of adult men and 0.2% of adult women reported past-year heroin use.
  • Men are more likely than women to use heroin and to experience negative consequences as a result of their use. In a study of people seeking treatment for opioid addiction, men were more likely than women to report injecting heroin and to have a history of criminal justice involvement.
  • Transgender individuals may also be at higher risk for opioid addiction and overdose. A study of transgender adults in Massachusetts found that nearly one-third had used opioids non-medically in the past year, and over 10% had experienced an overdose.

Heroin Abuse Statistics by Race

  • White Americans have the highest rate of heroin use, with 0.5% reporting past-year use in 2019.
  • The rate of past-year heroin use among Black Americans is slightly lower than that of white Americans, at 0.4%.
  • Hispanic Americans have a lower rate of heroin use than either white or Black Americans, with just 0.2% reporting past-year use in 2019.
  • Asian Americans have the lowest rate of heroin use among all racial groups, with just 0.1% reporting past-year use in 2019.
  • However, rates of opioid overdose deaths are highest among Black Americans - in 2019, Black individuals had the highest age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (including heroin) at 20.7 per 100,000 people.
  • Rates of opioid overdose deaths are also high among white Americans, with an age-adjusted rate of 15.6 per 100,000 people in 2019.
  • Hispanic and Asian Americans had lower rates of opioid overdose deaths compared to white and Black Americans - in 2019, the age-adjusted death rates for these groups were 8.1 and 5.3 per 100,000 people respectively.

Heroin and Treatment

  • Only 1 in 10 people with heroin addiction receive treatment.
  • Medications like methadone and buprenorphine can be effective in treating heroin addiction, but only 25% of people who need these medications receive them.
  • The cost of heroin addiction treatment can be prohibitive for many people, with some programs costing tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Access to treatment for opioid addiction is limited in many parts of the world. In low- and middle-income countries, only about 10% of people who need treatment for opioid addiction receive it.
  • The cost-effectiveness of opioid addiction treatment has been well-documented. For every dollar invested in addiction treatment, there is a return of up to $7 in reduced healthcare costs, criminal justice expenses, and lost productivity.

Conclusion

The statistics surrounding heroin use and addiction are staggering and highlight the urgent need for effective prevention strategies, as well as accessible and affordable treatment options. The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact on individuals, families, communities, and economies worldwide.

While progress has been made in increasing awareness and access to addiction treatment, there is still much work to be done in addressing the root causes of opioid addiction and reducing the harm caused by drug-related crime and overdose deaths. By working together to implement evidence-based policies and interventions, we can help prevent future generations from falling victim to this deadly epidemic.

Sources:

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Heroin DrugFacts.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Understanding the Epidemic.

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