Heroin Abuse Soaring In All Groups, Becoming “Equal-Opportunity Disease”


Women, people age 18 to 25, and those with higher incomes and private insurance have been increasingly falling victim to heroin, says a new federal study of substance abuse trends reported by the Boston Globe. The data show that heroin goes hand-in-hand with addiction to prescription opioids. The report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration analyzed survey data spanning 2002 to 2013, finding heroin use soaring among all groups. Heroin overdose deaths nearly quadrupled during that period, with most of the increase since 2011.

Those most likely to turn to heroin still tend to be men, people with an annual household income less than $20,000, Medicaid recipients, and the uninsured. The gap is narrowing between those groups and people who historically were less likely to use the drug, says the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Heroin use doubled among women and more than doubled among non-Hispanic whites. It increased dramatically among people with incomes above $50,000 and with private health insurance. Dr. Sarah Wakeman of Massachusetts General Hospital said the report reflects her experience in treating addicts. “It highlights the fact that this has become an equal-opportunity disease,” she said. “Basically, everyone I see is white, they're equally male and female, they're younger and affluent — a very different demographic.”

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