America in Crisis:
Opioid Addiction

"Every day in America, more than 50 people die from an overdose of prescription pain medication. Some people who start out abusing pain pills later turn to heroin, which claims another 29 lives each day."                                          
NPR Report, February 2, 2016
Drug Mortality, 10 Years Later

A rural and urban problem
While drug overdoses cut across rural-urban boundaries, death rates from overdoses in rural areas now outpace the rate in large metropolitan areas, which historically had higher rates. (Source)

Deaths Due to Opiates Climb to All Time Highs

Overdoses Deaths across the US, by county, by year.  
Select a a year to see opioid deaths spread across the US.

Heroin Use is on the Rise

Heroin use has increased across the US among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes. Not only are people using heroin, they are also abusing multiple other substances, especially cocaine and prescription opioid painkillers. As heroin use has increased, so have heroin-related overdose deaths. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013. 
Heroin use more than doubled among young adults ages 18-25 in the past decade.
More than 9 in 10 people who used heroin also used at least one other drug. 
45% of people who used heroin were addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.

Heroin Use Up Across All Age Groups

Despite the dangers associated with heroin use, its use has increased in the population. About 435,000 people aged 12 or older were current heroin users in 2014. While historically heroin use has been more prevalent in the 26 and over age group, most alarming was the number and percentage increase among people 18-25 years of age. Collectively, these two age groups represent 686,000 adults. Without intervention and support, this concerning trend will continue to rise and potentially impact a greater part of young adult and child population. (Source: SAMHSA)

Addiction Driving an Overdose Epidemic
As rates of addiction to heroin have steadily climbed throughout the United States, the rate of death due to heroin overdose has risen in tandem. 
Our ability to combat heroin deaths using life-saving drugs like naloxone are not keeping pace with this deadly addiction.

Learning about the crisis and staying informed

Watch the PBS Frontline documentary Chasing Herointhat originally aired on February 23, 2016 to learn more.

View the Frontline Documentary: Chasing Heroin

Obama Official on Opioid Crisis at the NLC:
"Our Streets Are Flooded with Heroin"

Mary Lou Leary, deputy director of State, Local and Tribal Affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), spoke at the National League of Cities Conference in Washington, D.C. stating, “Our streets are flooded with heroin. It’s not domestically grown or produced.” Pittsburgh Police Chief McLay agreed that while getting treatment for those addicted to heroin is an important part of dealing with the issue, law enforcement has a vital role to play in prosecuting drug dealers and stopping the flow of heroin across the border. 

Learn More About the Crisis