U.S. Heroin Abuse Called “Alarming;” Users Rise To 681,000


Far more people in the U.S. use heroin than a decade ago, found a study from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported by USA Today. From 2002 through 2007, heroin use was relatively stable with fewer than 400,000 users. The number ticked up to 455,000 in 2008, then shot up to 582,000 in 2009. In 2013, 681,000 people reported using heroin in the previous year. Most were adults 26 or older, but 31,000 teenagers used heroin in 2013. The study analyzed data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which interviews 70,000 people nationwide.

“The heroin problem in the United States has not improved in the past decade,” the report said. SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde called the level of U.S. heroin use “alarming.” Heroin abuse lags far behind use of other substances such as prescription painkillers and marijuana. Less than a third of 1 percent of the population used heroin in 2013. About 13 percent of the population 12 or older, 33 million people, used marijuana in 2013, and 4 percent, 11 million people, abused prescription painkillers. The study did not find a strong correlation between the growing number of heroin users and the crackdown on prescription painkillers. The number of people who said they used heroin for the first time grew from 117,000 in 2002 to 169,000 in 2013. It spiked to 187,000 in 2009.

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