New Trend Emerging in Heroin Addiction
A new trend in heroin addiction is reported to be emerging where Americans are skipping prescription opioids and going straight to using heroin. New research indicates that cutting the supply of prescription opioids is not preventing opioid initiation. Instead, it is simply changing the drug that people try first. According to one study from this year, an estimated 6,000 people were treated for opioid-use disorder across the US over a 10 year period. In 2005 only 9 percent of new users reported using heroin as their first opioid drug. However, by 2015 the number tripled to over a third of users.
Heroin has become the single most common individual opioid taken by people first trying this type of drug. This leads to the conclusion that efforts to crack down on prescription drugs has not prevented people from beginning to use opioids, but instead causing them to experiment with more dangerous drugs.
A recent study from Health Affairs found that the number of hospital admissions related to prescription overdoses fell by about 5 percent annually from 2010 and 2014. The increase of admissions for heroin increased to 31 percent each year from 2008 and 2014. CDC statistics reflect that while opioid prescription rates peaked in 2010 but fell by 5 percent per year between 2012 and 2016. Rates of heroin overdose have quadrupled since 2010 and overdoses linked to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased 72 percent from 2014 to 2015 alone.
Most drug users don’t begin using drugs with something as dangerous as opioids. Typically there is a period of experimentation and recreational use of other drugs such as alcohol, weed, psychedelics and cocaine before someone begins using opioids. This information leads to a larger question as to why individuals are so drawn to using opioids and how can we prevent overdose deaths from this drug.