The Rising Cost of Low-Priced Heroin
As heroin prices drop, the rate of heroin overdoses dramatically rises in the U.S. with the hardest-hit population being young, white males. States across the U.S. having been cracking down on opioid prescriptions as the opioid overdose epidemic continues to climb. Just recently, 10 states passed legislation to restrict new opioid prescriptions to 10 days or less with more states likely to follow suit.
It’s not just oxy anymore.
This may not cause the tides to turn, however, as studies show that in 2015 more people died from heroin overdoses than prescription opioids like oxycodone or hydrocodone. 53% of heroin users (up from 36% 15 years ago) admit to taking prescription opioids before moving onto using heroin and this link may be strengthened by the fact that heroin is steadily dropping in price while it becomes harder and harder to source prescription opioids outside of the black market.
It’s time to change the way we think about the opioid epidemic.
Men are more likely to be heroin users and as the rate of heroin overdose deaths rise, the vulnerable population is beginning to shift from middle-aged white women, who have previously gotten most of the coverage and research – to young white men with lower income and education levels.
And it’s not just heroin fuelling this crisis. Fentanyl – similar to heroin, but more potent – has been a leading cause of overdose deaths in the U.S. Overdoses from fentanyl rose nearly 75% in a year.
These studies have shown that the way that we talk about the opioid epidemic need to change before we see any real change in the deaths caused by not just prescription painkillers, but other opioids like heroin.