Heroin Abuse Stats: The Shocking Truth Behind This Deadly Epidemic

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Table of Contents

Heroin Statistics

Heroin is one of the most common drugs in the US. The statistics for state-by-state data vary greatly due to trends in usage and availability. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2020 an estimated 691,000 Americans over the age of 11 had used heroin within the past year.

Heroin addiction is a severe problem throughout the US, with high relapse rates after treatment. It is essential to understand how the abuse of prescription pain relievers leads to substance abuse with heroin.
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What is Heroin?

Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive opioid drug. It is derived from the opium poppy plant and enters the brain quickly to produce a strong euphoria. It can be injected, smoked, or snorted in various forms on the street. It contributes to most drug overdose deaths in the US. Most people use it as an injection drug, while others use it as a prescription pain reliever.

Heroin Use Statistics

In 2020, an estimated 9.5 million people in the US had used heroin at least once in their lifetime. Over 115 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses, with most cases involving heroin or prescription opioids used to treat chronic disease and pain.

According to the CDC, over 47,000 people in 2020 died due to opioid overdose, with 33,000 of those deaths involving heroin. Injection drug use is the type of heroin abuse most commonly indicated in these fatal overdoses.

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In 2021, there were an estimated 85,000 heroin-related overdose cases in the US. About 80% of people who use heroin first started by misusing prescription opioids. According to SAMHSA, 14.8% of individuals aged 12 or older reported misusing prescription opioids in 2020.

According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), over 14.07% of all drug-related emergency room visits in 2021 were related to heroin use. In 2018, the US Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in response to the opioid epidemic, which has claimed over 400,000 lives since 1999.

Heroin Addiction Statistics

  • An estimated 16 million people worldwide had a substance use disorder involving opioids (including heroin) in 2021.
  • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 1 in 10 people suffering from opioid addiction ever receive treatment.
  • In 2020, nearly 80% of methadone clinic admissions involved an opioid as the primary drug of abuse.
  • According to SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 9.5 million people over the age of 12 were dependent on or abused opioids in 2020.
  • The most common treatment for opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines behavioral therapy with medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone.
  • In 2020, an estimated 10% of patients abusing heroin in the US were receiving MAT for opioid use disorder.
  • According to SAMHSA’s Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), over 500,000 individuals received treatment for heroin or other opioid addiction in 2017.

These statistics demonstrate how serious the opioid epidemic has become in the US. Understanding the scope of heroin abuse is essential to making informed decisions and creating effective treatment strategies for those dealing with addiction.

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With proper education, resources, and support, it is possible to reduce the number of lives lost from this deadly drug.

Heroin Overdose Statistics 

Heroin Overdose Statistics by State

  • The states with the highest heroin overdose death rates in 2020 were Oregon (a 31.4% increase since 2019), Georgia (a 31%increase), and South Carolina (a 26% increase).
  • In 2020, New York had the highest number of deaths, reaching rates well over 1200, followed closely by Illinois and California.
  • The states with the highest rates of ER visits related to heroin or opioid use in 2020 were New Hampshire (a 46.1% increase from 2019), West Virginia (a 45.9% increase), and Maine (a 37.6% increase).
  • The states with the lowest rates of ER visits for opioid use in 2020 were Florida, Missouri, and Kentucky.

Heroin Death Statistics 

Heroin Recovery Statistics

  • In 2020, SAMHSA reported that an estimated 825,000 people in the US received outpatient treatment for opioid use disorder.
  • In 2021, an estimated 535,000 ER visits were related to heroin or other opioid use.
  • The most commonly used medications for opioid addiction treatment are methadone and buprenorphine.
  • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 36% of individuals who receive medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder remain in therapy for one year.
  • It is estimated that there is an 80% risk that someone in recovery from opioid addiction might relapse.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most recent statistics on heroin use in the United States?

The most recent statistics on heroin use in the US show that an estimated 10% of patients abusing heroin in the US were receiving MAT for opioid use disorder in 2020.

Preventable opioid overdose deaths increased by 41% in 2020, and heroin-involved overdose death rates decreased by nearly 7% from 2019 to 2020.

How has heroin use changed over time?

Heroin use has been on the rise in recent years. From 2017 to 2018, the heroin death rate increased by 13% among men and 9% among women. In 2020, an average of 44 people died each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids, totaling more than 16,000 deaths. This means more and more people are getting addicted to opioid drugs, primarily in their synthetic forms.

How does heroin use vary by region of the country?

Heroin use varies widely by region of the country. The states with the highest heroin overdose death rates in 2020 were Oregon (a 31.4% increase since 2019), Georgia (a 31% increase), and South Carolina (a 26% increase). The change depends on the availability of the drug as well as the socio-economic conditions in the area.

How does heroin use vary by demographic group?

Heroin use varies by demographic group. In 2020, the age group with the highest heroin overdose death rate was 25-34 (18,239 total deaths). The prevalence of heroin use is also higher among certain ethnic groups, including Native Americans and African Americans. African American men were found to be the group most affected by opioid and heroin use in the US.

What are some of the trends in heroin use?

The increase in synthetic opioid abuse has been significant in recent years. From 2017 to 2018, the synthetic opioid death rate increased by 45% among men and 42% among women. In 2020, an estimated 56,000 people died from synthetic opioid abuse alone in the US. Additionally, there has been a rise in ER visits related to heroin use and a decrease in opioid-related ER visits. The states with the lowest rates of ER visits for opioid use in 2020 were Florida, Missouri, and Kentucky.

What are the consequences of heroin use?

The consequences of heroin use can be both physical and psychological. Physically, heroin has been known to cause high blood pressure, slowed breathing, constipation, vomiting, confusion, and even coma or death in extreme cases. It affects the opioid receptors in the body’s central nervous system (CNS). Psychologically, the drug can lead to depression, anxiety, memory problems, paranoia, and impaired decision-making.

Long-term use of the drug can lead to addiction and even physical dependence. Additionally, heroin use can put users at an increased risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C due to needle sharing. When heroin enters the body, it can clog blood vessels, leading to kidney disease and other infectious diseases.

What are some of the treatments available for heroin addiction?

The most common treatments for heroin addiction are medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral therapy. MAT uses medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms while decreasing the risk of relapse.

Behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM) are available at many treatment centers. These treatment modalities help people learn how to identify and cope with triggers for heroin use. Other treatments include residential programs, support groups, and 12-step programs. In severe cases of opioid overdose, people may end up in the emergency departments of hospitals.

What is the likelihood of relapse for those in recovery from opioid addiction and drug abuse?

There is an 80% risk that someone in recovery from opioid addiction might relapse. However, the risk of relapse is greatly reduced by medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Additionally, ongoing support from family members, friends, and counselors can help reduce relapse risk.

Where can I find more information on heroin statistics and substance abuse of prescription opioids?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) provides updated information and statistics on heroin use in the US. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides information on opioid-related overdoses, deaths, and treatment programs. Other sources of information include state health departments and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

These sources provide valuable information on the prevalence of heroin use and programs and services available to help those in need. It is essential to stay informed on this issue and take steps to help reduce the stigma around opioid addiction so that more people receive the help they need.

Are you struggling with heroin addiction?

NuView Treatment Center can help. Our outpatient rehab services are tailored to your unique needs and offer the latest evidence-based methods. With our help, you can achieve lasting recovery and improve your quality of life.

Don’t let addiction control your life any longer. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation. We believe in you and will be there to support you every step of the way on your journey to recovery.

Call us at 424-327-4614 today for a free and confidential consultation and to learn more about our program and how we can help you achieve lasting recovery.

Author

Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

RADT
David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen
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LMFT
Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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