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Heroin use rising in white population

Heroin use rising in white population

Heroin use has increased in the American population at an astonishing rate. Interestingly, the biggest jump has been seen among white men with low income and education. Therefore, it is essential to understand the geographic and demographic patterns in case of substance abuse. One of the key findings of the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) on mortality suggests that drug overdose deaths involving heroin increased by three times in 2015 at 25 percent from 8 percent in 2010 in contrast to drug overdose deaths involving natural and semisynthetic opioids and other drugs.

It is quite frightening to note that there were 12,989 deaths due to heroin overdose in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Parallely, other changes were also noticed in the demography. An increase of 240 percent, from 6.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 21.1 in 2015, was witnessed between 1999 and 2015 in drug overdose deaths among non-Hispanic white people.

According to an interesting survey, conducted by The JAMA Network, the increase in the prevalence of heroin use disorder was significantly more pronounced among white individuals compared to the nonwhite individuals. As discussed above, it was markedly higher among white men with low income and little education. Silvia S. Martins and other researchers of the study uncovered this trend by analyzing studies of the periods 2001-2002 and 2012-2013 that comprised the responses of 79,402 individuals. So essentially, the people who were most affected had few resources to deal with the problem.

Understanding the downhill slide of prescription drugs

People who have misused and become dependent on prescription opioids in the past are most at risk of abusing heroin and becoming dependent on it. The CDC states that more than nine in 10 people using heroin also run the risk of using at least one other drug. As a result, it was found that 45 percent of the people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.

Among the new heroin users, approximately three out of four people admitted to having abused prescription opioids prior to using heroin. People who are already addicted to prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to abuse or be dependent on heroin. Therefore, once a person develops increased dependence on prescription drugs, there is no escape from the vicious cycle of abuse and addiction.

Some of the possible factors behind the rising rate of heroin use in the U.S could be the easy availability of the drug, relatively low price in comparison to prescription opioids and high purity. According to the data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the amount of heroin confiscated each year at the southwest border of the U.S. increased four times in 2013, from 500 kilograms during 2000–2008 to 2,196 kilograms in 2013.

Like prescription opioids, heroin abuse is associated with a substantial risk of overdosing and death. This danger is compounded by the lack of control over the purity of the drug injected and its possible contamination with other drugs, such as fentanyl. Since heroin is typically abused by injecting intravenously, and therefore, the sharing of contaminated drug paraphernalia is increasingly associated with a number of life-threatening sexually transmitted infections and other blood-borne diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis (especially hepatitis C), etc.

Path to recovery

When people overdose on heroin, their breathing often slows down or stops. This can increase the chances of developing problems like hypoxia that decreases the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. Hypoxia can impact mental health and can lead to coma and permanent brain damage.

If you or your loved one has developed an addiction to any drug, like heroin, contact the Texas Drug Addiction Treatment to connect to the best drug addiction treatment centers in Texas that specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-5757 or chat online to know more about the customized treatment plans for addiction.

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