Heroin Addiction: How Does it Start?

Heroin Addiction: How Does It Start?

Heroin addiction in America has reached epidemic proportions since 2000, leaving in its wake thousands of broken lives and families each year.

These heroin addiction statistics are startling:

  • From 2002-2013, the rate of heroin overdose increased 287%
  • Since 2002, heroin use has increased 62% and the rate of overdose deaths has quadrupled.
  • In 2008 alone, there were 47,058 drug overdose deaths. This is four times the overdose rate of 1999.

Opioid use is most often the gateway to heroin addiction.

Drastic increases in the number of opioid prescriptions in recent years makes them easily accessible. As a result, non-medical opioid abuse has increased 138% since 2000. Of the 21.5 million Americans who suffer from a substance abuse disorder, 1.9 million take opioids and 586,000 are addicted to heroin.

Four out of five heroin addicts started with prescription pain medication. Prescription opioids act on the same brain systems and produce a similar euphoric effect as heroin. People using opioids non-medically are 19 times more likely to switch to heroin. As prescriptions become harder to get and more expensive, many opioid users start using heroin because it is cheaper and easier to obtain. This trend has resulted in a rise in heroin users, particularly young people. The rate of heroin addiction among people aged 18-25 rose 108% between 2011 and 2013.

The story of heroin addiction is repeated time and again

One may start experimenting with marijuana and perhaps alcohol. Then he or she is introduced to prescription pain pills, most often by friends or family members. This leads to opioid addiction. When the pills become too difficult to get, they turn to heroin. It is cheap and easy to find.

Many are surprised to find out that affluent families are among the fastest growing heroin abuse populations. This is no longer just an inner city problem. It is prevalent among upper middle class families.


“America’s Addiction To Opioids: Heroin And Prescription Drug Abuse”. Drugabuse.gov. N.p., 2014. Web. 14 July 2016.

“Vital Signs: Demographic And Substance Use Trends Among Heroin Users — United States, 2002–2013”. Cdc.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 14 July 2016.