DrugRehab.org Heroin and Opioid Addiction Statistics

Combined, prescription opioids and heroin are responsible for more than 23,000 deaths per year, yet the number of users continues to grow. Each year over 160,000 people try heroin for the first time, and the cost heroin is at an all time low. A gram of heroin can cost as little as $100. Heroin and opioid addiction isn’t just in the streets either, and users range from the wealthy elite right down to high school students. The demographic for opioid use is growing, but wealth, status, and mental stability do not keep a person safe from addiction, overdose, or death…

Not every person who becomes addicted to heroin started by using an opioid pain medication first, or uses heroin by injecting it into their veins. A lot of people start using the drug based on the fact that it gets them high. However, a large percentage of people who get hooked on heroin, got there by previously using another drug. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “9 out of 10 people who use heroin used at least one other drug…” And 45% of people addicted to heroin are also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.

DrugRehab.org Heroin and Opioid Addiction Statistics_heroin use

Heroin is a form of morphine, and comes from the Asian opium plant; it’s highly addictive, and often leads to overdose and death. Heroin can be smoked, snorted, or injected, but it can also be used as a suppository or a patch.

What Are Some Common Names For Heroin?

Heroin comes under a variety of aliases and street names. Most of the names have become popularized by the drug culture to perhaps make the drug seem cooler than it is. Some of the other lingoes used for heroin are:

  • Smack
  • Dope
  • Junk
  • H.
  • Black Tar
  • Birdie Powder
  • Dragon
  • Hero
  • China White
  • Black Pearl
  • Brown Sugar
  • Witch Hazel
  • Chiva
  • Mexican Horse
  • Pluto
  • Mud
  • Horse
  • Skunk

How Do People Become Addicted To Heroin And Opioids?

Physical addiction can be difficult to understand, especially once dire consequences arise and a person continues using a drug. Most people don’t start off addicted to a substance like heroin, in fact, by definition, addiction is something that occurs with repeated use of a substance. People become addicted to opioid drug like heroin by simply by using the drug over and over. Though in some cases, NAS might occur, wherein a baby is born with the addiction.

For a regular user and person someone suffering from addiction, what they are essentially doing is feeding the compulsion, which then leads to an obsession–and when a person decides they don’t want to use opioids, they can’t stop.

“This will be the last time I use” or “I will stop… as soon as this bag is gone!” The obsession with opioids takes over a person’s thoughts to the point where, even if they don’t want to think about drugs, it’s all they can think about. At this point of addiction, they are very likely to have withdrawals when they stop using the drug, and quitting “cold turkey” can be ineffective and dangerous.

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The Heroin Epidemic

An epidemic occurs when there is a widespread disease in a community–other examples of an epidemic are the “flu epidemic” or the “typhoid fever epidemic.” Heroin use has become such a problem that it has been labeled an epidemic. Heroin use has reached an all time high and the people who are using the drug can be surprising.

DrugRehab.org Heroin and Opioid Addiction Statistics_heroin demographics

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that, “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.” Heroin is becoming less of a “street drug.” It has made its way from the rural areas to the suburbs, and heroin can kill people from any race or stature.

How Old Is The Average Heroin User?

According to the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration: “In 2013, an estimated 169,000 individuals aged 12 or older used heroin for the first time in the past year… Among individuals aged 12 to 49 who initiated heroin use in the past 12 months, the average age at first use in 2013 was 24.5 years.” 24 years old, but that is a gross average of people between ages 12 and 49–which means that half of the people using the drug are younger than 24 and half are older. Could you picture your mom or dad, or your grandparents using heroin? Well the truth is, statistically, it’s plausible that a person over 60 years old could be using the drug.

How Many People Use Opioids?

An estimated 26.4 million and 36 million people use opioids worldwide, and a number of those people turn to heroin for its greater effect and cost. You would think that someone would have to be pretty desperate to start using heroin, right? Maybe not, a lot of the time, heroin use can start from prescription painkillers, and sometimes a person will start seeking their prescribed medicine on the street after they have expelled all of their other resources (including money, scripts, and so on). In 2013, 681,000 people over 12 years old reported heroin use.

DrugRehab.org Heroin and Opioid Addiction Statistics_overdoses

Switching To Heroin From Prescription Opioids

On the street, prescription hydrocodone (Vicodin) can cost up to $5 dollars per pill, or $10 per pill for something like oxycodone (Oxycontin). Because of the cost of prescription painkillers, most people simply can’t afford them. Even with a prescription, opioid painkillers cost as much as 3 times more than heroin. Many people turn to heroin to simply save money, but keep the drug addiction. Heroin use is becoming way too popular, and the cost of the drug has a lot to do with it.

How Much Does Heroin Cost?

The price for heroin has been on the decline since the 80s, and the price of a gram of pure heroin was $2,690 in 1982, but nowadays can be found for $600 and less per gram. The price of street heroin, which has been “cut” and divided into less potent servings (to save dealers money), can be as low as $100 per gram. A dose of heroin is typically 5-20 milligrams, which means that if a person is regularly using heroin, they can get high off of a gram of heroin up to 200 times! It all depends on the purity of the street drug, but in essence, heroin is dangerously inexpensive and widely available to the mass public.

DrugRehab.org Heroin and Opioid Addiction Statistics_heroin epidemic

How Many People Die From Heroin And Opioid Overdose?

The biggest cost of heroin abuse is life, and heroin is responsible for approximately 8,200 deaths in the United States. Prescription opioids were also responsible for some deaths–and, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “in 2015, more than 15,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription opioids.” A staggering number, but what is even more distressing is that “from 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.” Some of the most significant prescription drugs related to death are:

How To Tell If A Person Is Using Opioids

It isn’t easy to spot a drug user on the street. Let’s face it, people don’t usually start off a conversation by telling you that they have a drug problem. It sure would make things easier if they did, but a couple things to look for in a potential drug user, are: rapid weight loss or weight gain, loss of interest in hobbies, irritability, shrunken pupils, and constant exhaustion.

How To Get Treatment For Heroin And Opioid Addiction

According to a statistic by SAMHSA, “the number of people aged 12 or older who received treatment for heroin use during their most recent treatment in the past year has…risen from 277,000 people in 2002 to 526,000 people in 2013.” Some people aren’t fortunate enough to seek help, because many people suffering from an addiction don’t recognize a problem in the first place.

We are here to help, if you or a loved one is struggling with a drug addiction with heroin and other opioids. Contact Us today if you have questions about opioid addiction. Sometimes the phone can weigh a ton when you need help, but call now (1-833-473-4227) to speak to one of our caring professionals and get on the road to recovery. You don’t want to become another drug statistic…

If you or a loved one is battling heroin or an opioid addiction, contact us now!

For More Information Related to “Heroin and Opioid Addiction Statistics” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From DrugRehab.org:



Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Today’s Heroin Epidemic
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Prescription Opioid Overdose Data
New England Journal of Medicine – Relationship between Nonmedical Prescription-Opioid Use and Heroin Use
National Institute on Drug Abuse – America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Trends in Heroin Use in the United States: 2002 to 2013