Heroin Facts

  • Injection continues to be the predominant method of heroin use among addicted users seeking treatment; however, researchers have observed a shift in heroin use patterns, from injection to sniffing and smoking.
  • Heroin is one of several highly addictive drugs derived from the opium poppy plant, along with morphine, opium, Dilaudid, and others.
  • The large majority of heroin is illegally manufactured and imported, which originates largely from the Indian sub-continent.
  • Heroin accounts for the majority of the illicit opiate abuse in America.

Heroin Statistics

  • Current estimates suggest that nearly 600,000 people need treatment for heroin addiction.
  • In the 25 to 49 age group, illicit drug overdose is the fourth leading cause of death, about the same number as motor vehicle crashes.
  • Children as young as 13 have been found involved in heroin abuse. According to statistics in 1999 heroin overdose has caused more deaths than traffic accidents.
  • The 1999 National Household Survey on drug abuse (NHSDA) estimated that there were 149,000 new heroin users in 1998 and that nearly 80 percent were under the age of 26.
  • Of approximately 1.2 million "sometime" heroin users in the US, about 208,000 use it habitually.
  • Last year, there were approximately 84,000 visits to emergency rooms in the US due to heroin.
  • Over 80% of heroin users inject with a partner, yet 80% of overdose victims found by paramedics are alone.
  • The dependent person use between 150 - 250 milligrams per day. Divide into 3 doses.
  • The heroin addict spends between $150 to $200 per day to maintain a heroin addiction.
  • In 1998. 65% of the heroin seized in the United States originated in South America, and 17% came from Mexico.
  • Data from the 1999 National Household Survey on drug abuse suggest purity is partly responsible for the 75% of new heroin users who are snorting or smoking, not injecting the opiate. In 1991 the number of new users was 46%.
  • The 1999 NHSDA survey adjusted the average age for initiation of heroin use to just above 21 years of age. Other surveys, and experts have said many new users are between 18 to 25 years old.
  • According to Drug Abuse Warning Network, or DAWN, heroin and morphine accounted for 51% of drug deaths ruled accidental or unexpected in 1999.
  • Out of the 11,651 deaths... accidental and intentional by way of suicide... reported to DAWN by medical examiners in 1999, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available, 4,820 were the result of heroin or morphine abuse, or some combination of those and other drugs.
  • In 2000, as part of DAWN's year-end emergency data report, heroin related emergency room visits increased 15% from the last year.
  • Treatment admission rates for primary heroin abuse increased in publicly funded substance abuse treatment facilities across the nation between 1993 and 1999. In 1993, the treatment admission rate for primary heroin abuse in the United States was 95 admissions per 100,000 persons age 12 or older. By 1996, the admission rate had increase 7% to 102 per 100,000 and by 1999 it had increased by another 3% to 105 per 100,000.
  • The route of administration among heroin users entering treatment has been changing. In 1993, 74% of admissions for heroin abuse were injectors. By 1999, this had declined to 66%. There was an increase in admission for heroin inhalation for 23% in 1993 to 28% in 1999.
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