Heroin is a drug that got its fame back in the 1970s and many believed that its use had dwindled over the years. Studies however, show that a major increase in heroin addiction can be seen. In Ohio, state law enforcement officials reported a 25 percent increase in heroin overdoses between 2008 and 2009 and those numbers are continuing to rise.
In Washington state, a shipment of heroin is believed to be linked to the death of seven people over a span of just five days during April, 2013 and in Missouri, state officials report more than 300 people have died in the past two years from heroin overdose.
Data gathered from death certificates and compiled by the CDC showed approximately 3,500 Americans died in 2009 from heroin use. This is more than double the number of heroin related deaths from 1999 so it seems as if the drug has made a major comeback since the 70s.
Experts believe that the younger generation may be at a higher risk for heroin use. As they move up from prescription drugs to street drugs, heroin is often their drug of choice. Nearly 35 percent of all heroin related deaths in 2009 were people under the age of 30 and nearly 100 of those were teenagers. The majority of all 2009 heroin related deaths were people between the ages of 30 and 50.
Addiction experts say that there is no typical characteristic that makes a heroin addict. Heroin users come from all walks of life. They can be poor or rich, have PhDs or drop out of high school and can be any age. Death certificates simply do not tell how long someone may have been abusing heroin so it becomes difficult to determine where the real risks lie with regards to age and lifestyle.
Federal surveys done in 2011 report that less than 3 percent of all high school students have tried heroin and that there were more nearly 400,000 Americans of different ages addicted to it. Out of nearly one million visits to emergency rooms in 2009 because of drug overdose or illicit drug use, nearly 225,000 of those were related to heroin use.
Law enforcement officials believe that the numbers of Americans addicted to heroin are rising because it is more readily available today than it has been in the past and because it is a cheaper alternative than other prescription medications such as Oxycontin.
Interviews with heroin addicts showed that many have switched from Oxy to heroin. When asked what drugs they were currently using, most reported that they had begun using heroin simply because it was more readily available than Oxy.
The risk,aside from the obvious addiction risks in general, of using heroin come from what may be included in it. Heroin is the same as an opioid addiction and follows the exact same brain process. The risk comes in the purity differences. Those using the drug simply do not know what may be added to it and some of these chemicals can be fatal when inhaled or injected.