Heroin Use Surges Among Women, Middle Class

Opioid painkillers might be the first entry point for many
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 7, 2015 6:43 PM CDT
A firearm and 154 pounds of heroin worth at least $50 million are displayed at a Drug Enforcement Administration news conference in May in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

(Newser) – The number of US heroin users has grown by nearly 300,000 over a decade, with the bulk of the increase among whites, according to a new government report. Other notable increases occurred among women and those considered to be in the middle class. Experts think the increase was driven by people switching from opioid painkillers to cheaper heroin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the report today, based on annual face-to-face surveys of about 67,000 Americans. Some takeaways:

  • Nearly 3 in every 1,000 Americans said they used heroin in the previous year. That's up from under 2 per 1,000 about a decade ago, a 62% increase that translates to hundreds of thousands more people.

  • While heroin use more than doubled among whites, it seemed to level off in other racial and ethnic groups.
  • Heroin use grew by 60% among those with annual household incomes of at least $50,000 and by 62.5% among those with private insurance—a sign that users are more financially secure, reports USA Today.
  • The rate of heroin use doubled in women—a more dramatic rise than what was seen in men.
  • The heroin death rate quadrupled over a decade, reaching nearly 8,300 in 2013, with most of the fatal overdoses involving other drugs at the same time—most often cocaine.

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