Opioids are the the most prevalent cause of drug overdose in the US, and overdose rates continue to increase. From the year 1999 to the year 2008, heroin overdose rates increased by 400%, and rates have quadrupled again since 2010. Heroin overdose rates increased by over 20% from 2014 to 2015 alone. We are in the midst of a crisis, and opioids are to blame
Many heroin addictions begin with prescription opioids. In fact, three out of four new users report abusing pills first. For years, doctors prescribed them more freely. In more recent years research on their addictive properties and overdose rates has caused doctors to reduce, and sometimes cut off, prescriptions. Addicts can buy opioid pills, but they are very expensive. Heroin is less expensive and much stronger, so addicts sometimes turn to it out of desperation.
It is estimated that around 70,000 people report using heroin each year, but the number is likely much higher. Many addicts do not seek treatment on their own and would not answer questions about heroin use honestly. Demographically, the average heroin user is white, male, low-income, has abused prescription drugs in the past, and between the ages of 18 and 25.
Do you suspect that someone you care about is abusing heroine? Learn the signs.
Signs of heroin use include:
- tiny pupils
- appearance of sleepiness
- flushed skin
- paraphernalia, such as burnt spoons, baggies of a white substance or syringes
- runny nose
- track marks, or always covering arms
- lack of self care, such as eating and grooming
- nausea or vomiting
Health risks of heroin use include damage to the lungs, heart and kidneys, as well as severe impairment of the ability to think.
Because the potency of heroin varies and addicts often use more to achieve a stronger effect, overdose rates are very high. Often times, the difference between the amount needed for the desired effect and the amount that could cause a fatal overdose is very small. Because of this, all heroin users are at risk of overdose.
Do you or someone you care about need help overcoming addiction? We at Genesis House are here for you. You can reach us, 24 hours a day, at 800-737-0933