Heroin related deaths have nearly quadrupled in the United States since 2002, due to lowered costs and an increase in the abuse of prescription opiate painkillers, U.S. Health officials reported on Tuesday.
Prescription painkillers such as Percocet, OxyContin, and Vicodin increase the susceptibility to heroin addiction, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports Reuters.
A report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC was used to analyze national survey data on drug use in America from 2002 to 2013. The report findings show “more accessible, less-expensive heroin all over the country,” said Frieden.
Everything we see points to more accessible, less-expensive heroin all over the country.
Drug abuse overall is up, but more individuals are using prescription painkillers. According to NBC News, for those people who become addicted to the painkillers, heroin is a cheaper and more easily available alternative.
Additionally, purer heroin is coming into the U.S. that is cheaper, which makes overdose a higher risk for drug users. “More than 8,200 people died in 2013,” reports the CDC.
Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013.
“What’s most striking and troubling is that we’re seeing heroin diffusing throughout society to groups that it hasn’t touched before,” Frieden said.
What’s most striking and troubling is that we’re seeing heroin diffusing throughout society to groups that it hasn’t touched before. We’re seeing heroin affecting people in urban and rural areas, white, black and Hispanic, low middle and high income. We’re seeing heroin diffusing throughout society but we can turn this around.
In order to reverse this trend, Frieden said an “all-society response” is needed to improve the practices of prescribing opiate based painkillers, an expanded effort to treat individuals addicted to drugs and who suffer from overdose – with drugs such as naloxone — and a crackdown from the Drug Enforcement Administration on the distribution of heroin.
In other news, homemade morphine is a real possibility in the near future. Poppy plants that grow morphine-producing yeast might very well make it easy for people to manufacture the highly addictive opiates previously available only with a prescription.