Heroin related deaths in the US have quadrupled from 2000-2013 according to statistics.
The report from the Nation Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that from 2010-2013, drug-poisoining deaths involving heroin increased to four times as much, from 0.7 deaths per 100,000 people, to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 people in America. In 2013 alone there was a total of 43, 982 deaths across the country attributed to drug-poisoning.
Deaths from heroin were around four times higher among men than in women in 2013, with 1,732 women dying from heroin use compared with a total of 6,525 men. As for age, researchers also found that the rate of heroin-related drug-poisoining deaths was highest among 25-44 year-olds.
Many overdoses occur by supression of breathing that reduces the amount of oxygen that can reach the brain. This hypoxia can potentially lead to dangerous symptoms such as coma and brain damage.
Opioid Painkiller Dangers
The specific reasons for the shocking increase in the deaths from heroin are debatable. One reason could be the increase in the use of painkillers throught the US. Many painkillers such as codeine and morphine are opioids and can have a similar effect to the opiot heroin, especially if taken the same way.
The NCHS revealed in another report that significantly more Americans over the age of 20 are using opioids. The number of people who used a painkiller stronger than morphine increased from 17% to 37% from the year 2000-2010.
Source: CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality
The graph above may seem to show a reasonably strong relationship between opioid and heroin related deaths in the American population, but statistics can often show a correlation between anything if you want them to. There might not be as strong a relationship as the graph alone could convey, but even so there must be at least some link with the two substances. This is because people who are addicted to painkillers may make the switch to heroin if they cannot get a prescription for opioid drugs or can get hold of heroin cheaper.
Heroin and Opioid Related Deaths
Previous research demonstrated that around 16% of heroin-related drug-poisoning deaths also involve the use of opioid analgesics. There may also be some blurring of the boundaries of which specific drug caused the deaths in each case because different regions in the US may use different toxicological tests to determine the types of drugs responsible for drug-poisoning deaths. Due to the way that the body breaks down heroin into morphine within the body, it can be difficult to distinguish between a heroin-related death and a morphine-related death, which may have led to the misclassification of some fatalities.
Although heroin-related drug-poisoning deaths have increased so sharply, especially in the last three years, the overall rate is still considerably lower than that for opioid analgesics.
Andrew Kolodny, the chief medical officer of the Phoenix House, a US National non-profit drug and alcohol rehabilitation organisation, said: “We are seeing heroin deaths skyrocketing because we have an epidemic of people addicted to opioids. There are new markets like suburbs where heroin didn’t used to exist.”
He suggests that America’s war on drugs will not be over any time soon when he adds: “We are dealing with the worst drug epidemic in our history, there’s no evidence it’s plateauing.”
Obviously, the possibility and danger of drug-overdoses are not just exclusive to America. If you think that someone your care for could be taking illegal drugs, or even prescription drugs in dangerous amounts then please visit our support pages for independent advice on what to do. If you require a drug test to determine how serious the problem is then call AlphaBiolabs on 0333 600 1300 to book a test or for any advice you may need.