Statistics show that heroin has been rated by the British Medical Journal Lancet as both the most addictive and the most harmful of the drugs (both legal and illegal) that are commonly abused1. However, exact heroin statistics on how many people in the U.S. use heroin are difficult to come by. Possession or sale of heroin is a felony and users are naturally reluctant to expose themselves to criminal charges. This means a great deal may be hidden from view.
One method is to anonymously survey a random sample with the hope that honest answers will emerge. Another is to track emergency room heroin statistics, treatment center admissions and arrest records.
Selected heroin statistics
Monitoring the Future, an annual survey published by the University of Michigan,2 tracks trends in drug use and includes information about heroin use and attitudes among high school students. The trends remain fairly flat since 2001 with 0.7% to 0.9% of respondents reporting heroin use “at least once” during the past 12 months. Those reporting heroin as “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get rank at more than 20% for high school seniors.
Use in the past month (age 12 and older) for heroin nationwide in 2008 was estimated at 0.2% (700,000 people) by the Office of Applied Studies, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.3
A National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) report on heroin statistics estimates 3.7 million Americans have tried heroin at least once (2003).4
14 percent of admissions to publicly funded drug abuse programs in 2006 were for heroin treatment.
Of an estimated 113 million emergency department (ED) visits in the U.S. during 2006, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) estimates that heroin was involved in 189,780.5
The heroin addict spends from $150 to $200 daily to maintain their heroin addiction.
From 70% to 80% of all new cases of Hepatitis C come from injectable drug abuse and while heroin can be ingested in other ways, most users choose to eventually inject the drug.
A list of celebrities who have died from drug overdoses or the consequences of drug abuse can be found at Wikipedia.6 The list runs into the hundreds, with heroin featured in many of the deaths.
photo by Rodrigo Valladares
- "Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse," Prof David Nutt et al, The Lancet, Vol 369, Issue 9566
- Monitoring The Future, 2009 data
- Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
- NIDA Research Report Series: "Heroin Abuse and Addiction" [PDF file]
- Celebrity drug related deaths at Wikipedia