Heroin has made its way into every town across the country. According to a new federal data, heroin-related deaths quadrupled in the U.S. from 2010-2013. The report which was conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that from 2010 to 2013 drug poisoning deaths involving heroin increased fourfold. In 2010 there were 0.7 deaths per 100,000 people which increased to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013. The rate of overdose was close to four times higher among males than among females in 2013.
The scariest thing about the heroin epidemic is that it is effecting every category of people. Heroin related drug poisoning deaths have increased in all age groups, races and ethnic groups. Every region in America has experienced an increase with the largest being in the Midwest.
This will come as no surprise to many people who have been following this issue. Most of us are related to or know someone who has had an issue with opiates. It is a very common thing in present day to be affected by this epidemic in one way or another. The main reason for the heroin issue the country is facing can be blamed on the painkiller problem. The NCHS released a different report last month that stated more people over the age of 20 are using opioids than ever before. The number of people who used a painkiller stronger than morphine increased from 17% to 37% from the early 2000's to about a decade later.
These numbers are alarming and should be causing much concern. The problem is that many states have made significant changes to their laws and ways to combat the prescription painkiller epidemic but many believe the major damage has already been done. Prescription painkillers were very easy to obtain over the past 15 years and now that they are much harder to get, people are resorting to using heroin. Heroin is just as strong but much more dangerous. You can never tell how potent the heroin you are about to use is, compared to a pill that has quality control with specific dosages.
Although states are taking the steps to put a dent in the numbers of people becoming addicted to painkillers, it will never stop completely. Many states have implemented prescription drug monitoring programs for doctors and pharmacists to use to fight against “doctor shopping.” A recent study found that over 50% of doctors who were part of the study have never used the systems because of time constraints and how hard the systems are to use. It will make no difference in the numbers of abusers if the great plans that have been put forth are not used. Unfortunately, none of these programs are mandatory. Some states are trying to push laws that make it mandatory to use the systems but are heavily fought against.
The sad truth is that we will not see much decline over the next few years. These drugs have become common place in our country and will continue to create havoc.