It is no secret that heroin use and opioid related deaths have nearly doubled within the last decade. A new demographic study titled, "Vital Signs: Demographic and Substance Use Trends Among Heroin Users - United States, 2002-2013," conducted by Jones et. al., reveals that the "increase in heroin abuse or dependence parallels the increase in heroin-related overdose deaths."
Findings indicated that the annual average rate of past-year heroin use increased from 1.6 per 1,000 persons aged ≥12 years in 2002-2004 to 2.6 per 1,000 in 2011-2013. That is a staggering increase of 63% from 2002 to 2013, while the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled in the same time frame.
The implications of this rising trend calls for greater than ever prevention efforts carried through across the United States. Groups with an increased risk for heroin abuse or dependence include persons with an annual household income less than $20,000, Medicaid recipients, and the uninsured. States must improve their strategies for tackling addiction by pressuring third-party payers to increase their coverage and by enforcing stricter restrictions for opioid pain relievers.
Time is of the essence in prevention efforts and can be the difference between recovery and a fatal overdose.
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