CDC Vital Signs: Today’s Heroin Epidemic

July 7th, 2015

CDC (7/7/15): Heroin use has increased across the United States among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. The greatest increases have occurred in groups with historically lower rates of heroin use, including women and people with private insurance and higher incomes. In addition, nearly all people who use heroin also use multiple other substances, according to the latest Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The report also finds the strongest risk factor for a heroin use disorder is a prescription opioid use disorder.

Key findings include:
– Nearly all (96 percent) people who reported heroin use also reported using at least one other drug in the
past year with more than half (61 percent) using at least three other drugs.
– The people most at-risk of heroin abuse or dependence include non-Hispanic whites, men, 18-to-25
year-olds, people with an annual household income less than $20,000, Medicaid recipients, and the
uninsured.
– Significant increases in heroin use were found in groups with historically low rates of heroin use,
including women and people with private insurance and higher incomes. The gaps between men and
women, low and higher incomes, and people with Medicaid and private insurance have narrowed in the
past decade.
– People who abuse or are dependent on:
o prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to abuse or be dependent on heroin.
o cocaine are 15 times more likely to abuse or be dependent on heroin.
o marijuana are 3 times more likely to abuse or be dependent on heroin.
o alcohol are 2 times more likely to abuse or be dependent on heroin.
– As heroin abuse or dependence has increased so has heroin-related overdose deaths. From 2002 through
2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled.

Click Here for the CDC Press Release.

Click Here for the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Click Here for a Vital Signs heroin graphic.

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