By Dr. Mercola
According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lethal heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2000 and 2013 in the US, escalating from 0.7 to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 during this timeframe.
Heroin-related deaths were nearly four times more prevalent among men than women in 2013, and lethal overdoses were highest among Caucasians between the ages of 25 and 44. The greatest increase in heroin-related deaths was seen after 2010.
As noted by Medical News Today:1
"During the period investigated, the researchers found an average increase in heroin-related drug-poisoning deaths of six percent per year from 2000 through to 2010.
From 2010 through 2013, the average increase was a staggering 37 percent per year..."
Prescription Painkillers Are the New Gateway Drugs
What many fail to realize is that this trend is actually fueled by legal drug addiction. The reason for the resurgence of heroin is in large part due to it being less expensive than its prescription counterparts.
Addictive prescription drugs such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, codeine, and Fentora, all of which are opioids (derivatives of opium) are widely overprescribed for pain.
Many painkiller addicts also turn to heroin when their tolerance level surpasses their allotted prescription dosage, or when they're no longer allowed to refill their prescription.
According to previous statistics, prescriptions for opioid painkillers have risen by a staggering 300 percent over the past decade.2 As of 2012, 259 million prescriptions for opioids and other narcotic painkillers were written3 in the US, and these drugs actually claim far more lives than heroin does.
In 2010, prescription painkillers were responsible for 16,600 deaths; heroin was involved in about 3,000.4 By 2013, the number of heroin deaths had increased to 8,257,5 but as noted in the featured article:6
"Although heroin-related drug-poisoning deaths have increased sharply in recent years, the overall rate is still considerably lower than that for opioid analgesics.Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer at a drug treatment center called Phoenix House has also previously spoken out on this issue, noting that:7
In addition, NIDA [National Institute on Drug Abuse] suggest that the abuse of prescription opioids such as Oxycontin and Vicodin could be the first step toward heroin abuse for many people."
"Heroin use is increasing because we have an epidemic of opioid addiction (caused by overexposure of our population to painkillers) and not enough has been done to expand access to treatment in communities hit hardest."
Financial Conflicts of Interest Fuel Narcotic Prescription Rates
Despite dramatic increases in prescriptions, two recent papers assert that no solid evidence can be found in the medical literature supporting the long-term safety and effectiveness of narcotic painkillers.
Many suffering from chronic pain end up using painkillers for years on end, yet there are no studies longer than one year on record. Most trials do not go past six weeks.
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