Heroin & Opioids

Heroin use is increasing, and so are heroin-related overdose deaths. The trend is switching to use of prescription and heroin combined.

  • Heroin use more than doubled among young adults ages 18 to 25 in the past decade.
  • More than 9 in 10 people who used heroin also used at least one other drug.
  • 45% of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.

Responding to the Heroin Epidemic

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Prevent People From Starting Heroin

Reduce prescription opioid painkiller abuse. Improve opioid painkiller  purchasing practices and identify high-risk individuals early.

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Reduce Heroin Addiction

Ensure access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Treat people  addicted to heroin or prescription opioid painkillers with MAT which combines the use of medications (methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone) with counseling and behavioral therapies.

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Reverse Heroin Overdose

Expand the use of naloxone. Use naloxone, a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when administered in time.

How Heroin is Harmful

  • Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive opioid drug.
  • A heroin overdose can cause slow and shallow breathing, coma, and death.
  • People often use heroin along with other drugs or alcohol. This practice is especially dangerous because it increases the risk of overdose.
  • Heroin is typically injected but is also smoked or snorted. When people inject heroin, they are at risk of serious, long-term viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and Hepatitis B, as well as bacterial infections of the skin, bloodstream, and heart.

Risk Factors for Heroin Abuse or Dependence

  • History of alcohol abuse, marijuana, or cocaine
  • History of prescription opioid pain medications

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the likelihood of heroin addiction doubles with the alcohol use, triples with marijuana use, increases 15 times over with cocaine and 40 times over with the use of prescription opiates.