Heroin Addiction Rate: An Overview

heroin addiction ratesThe rate of heroin addiction in the general population has always been difficult to gauge. People who use heroin are typically more mobile (thus more difficult to track), may or may not exhibit signs of heroin addiction and due to the illicit nature of their addiction, more apt to lie or omit the truth of their addiction. As a result, nationwide figures tend to underestimate the scope of heroin addiction. Nonetheless, even conservative estimates point to a large and growing problem.

An increase in heroin dependency
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is published each year and offers a conservative yet largely accepted picture of drug use in the U.S. According to the 2009 report, the number of persons who were dependent on or abused heroin jumped from 213,000 in 2007 to 399,000 in 2009.*

Treatment statistics
In 2009, 507,000 people sought treatment for heroin addiction and dependence, a figure not statistically different from the previous year. In addiction, 739,000 sought treatment for prescription painkiller dependence. The majority attended a self-help group, and the next highest percentage attended outpatient rehabilitation. Among all substance abusers who felt they needed treatment but did not receive it, a plurality (36.8 percent) said they could not afford the cost due to lack of health insurance.

A rise in new users
The 2009 NSDUH also produced statistics indicating that first-time heroin use increased. Between 2002 and 2008, the average annual number of heroin initiates was slightly over 100,000. In 2009 the number increased significantly: 180,000 persons over the age of 12 injected, snorted, smoked or inhaled heroin for the first time. The average age of new users was 25.5, tracking with previous years.

Trends in heroin administration
Injection—into a blood vein or muscle—continues to be the most prevalent method for using heroin. Rates of inhalation have fluctuated over the past few years, mirroring the availability of low-cost, high-purity heroin. New and more affluent users continue to favor non-injection routes of administration, but as usage continues, injection, which offers the most potent high and quickest onset, tends to become the preferred method. All routes of administration are equally addictive.

A global problem
The 2008 World Drug Report, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, estimates that there are 12 million heroin abusers worldwide. Opium production reached a record high in 2007, largely driven by poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, which accounted for 92 percent of production. (However, a majority of the heroin in the U.S. is synthesized from opium cultivated in Latin America, primarily Mexico and Colombia.

Heroin addiction treatment at Alta Mira
If you or someone you love is struggling and seeking the best heroin addiction treatment please contact us today to set up a free consultation. Alta Mira has a results-proven inpatient drug rehabilitation that helps people regain their footing and rebuild their lives. For more information, call us at 866-922-1350.


* It’s worth noting that 1.9 million people were listed as dependent on prescription pain relievers, many of which, like heroin, are opioid-based.