On July 10, 2015 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on the Heroin epidemic that is sweeping the United States. By the standard of the Internet, this is old news by now but I’m just getting around to writing about it. And the report identifies critical information the public—and public officials—need to be aware of so the more publicity the better.
The news is dire.
The big finding from the report is that heroin use has increased overall by 63% between 2002 and 2013 and amongst virtually all demographics regardless of gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
Even more striking is heroin deaths have quadrupled between 2002-2013.
Nearly all heroin users have also used at least 1 other drug.
As confirmed by many other reports, abuse of prescription opioid painkillers increases your risk of heroin use 40X! And 45% of heroin users are also addicted to opioid pain medication.
The report offers several viable responses that should be taken to curb the heroin epidemic:
- Prevent: prevent and reduce abuse of prescription opioid painkillers
- Reduce: increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines proven, effective medications such as methadone and buprenorphine with counseling and behavioral therapies
- Reverse: expand the use of the naloxone to prevent heroin overdose
Above all, increased education and awareness of the heroin epidemic and medications available to treat addiction (methadone, buprenorphine) and prevent overdoses (naloxone)
The report also argues that states must play a key role in addressing this epidemic through such measures as implementation/expansion of prescription drug monitoring programs, significantly increased availability and access to MAT and naloxone, improved educational programs, and other measures.
For more information see: