The number of Americans abusing heroin is growing, research has shown.

A study carried out by Columbia University claims that use of the class-A drug has risen five-fold among white adults in just over a decade. And there were three times as many adults in the US addicted to heroin in 2012 to 2013 than there was in 2001 to 2002.

The group which saw the biggest increase in heroin dependency was white people aged between 18 and 44. It is believed this could partly be down to more people abusing opioid prescription drugs and then going on to take heroin.

Researchers analysed statistics from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which interviewed 80,000 adults. The study found that 0.2% of adults had a heroin addiction in 2001 to 2002 but this had grown to 0.7% by 2012 to 2013.

The report’s lead author, Dr Silvia Martins, an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, said: “We are seeing that heroin use has increased in the past 10 years. Because the effects of heroin seem so similar to widely available prescription opioids, heroin use appears to have become more socially acceptable among suburban and rural whites.”

Prescription drugs blamed for rise

In 2012 to 2013, more than half of heroin users (53%) admitted they had misused prescription opioids first, up from 36% in 2001/2.

President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order establishing a commission which will look at the issue of heroin and opioid abuse in the US. The commission will then be expected to produce a report proposing potential solutions to the problem in the autumn.

AlphaBiolabs offers a range of drug tests which can detect whether someone has been using heroin. Blood and urine tests can establish whether someone has taken the drug recently whereas analysis of the hair strand can reveal if anyone has misused any illegal substances over a longer period of time.

While drugs work their way out of the body quite quickly, evidence of them remains in the hair shaft as it grows. This means that hair strand drug tests can identify whether someone has used illegal substances or prescription drugs over a period of months, depending on the length of the sample.

This can be useful in building up an accurate history of an individual’s drug use so they be given the help and support they need.