Heroin Deaths in U.S. more than Double in 3 Years as White Men Lead Overdose Growth

Friday, May 15, 2015
(graphic: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

The number of deaths from heroin overdoses more than doubled in three years, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


In 2010, there were 3,036 deaths in the United States involving heroin overdoses, a rate of 1.0 per 100,000 population. By 2013, the number had jumped to 8,257, a rate of 2.7 per 100,000.


The demographics of the overdose victims have changed almost as dramatically. In 2000, African-Americans aged 45-64 had the highest rate of overdose deaths. By 2013, it was whites aged 18-44 who predominated. Men were far more likely to overdose than women; in 2013, 6,525 men overdosed for a rate of 4.2 per 100,000. In contrast, 1,732 women overdosed, a rate of 1.2 per 100,000.


Total heroin use by Americans aged 12 and older reached 681,000 in the past year, according data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.


Despite the increase in heroin deaths, many more people still die from overdoses of prescription opioid painkillers. There were 16,235 of those deaths in 2013, a rate of 5.1 per 100,000.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Drug-Poisoning Deaths Involving Heroin: United States, 2000–2013 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) (pdf)

Study: Heroin Use Is Higher Than a Decade Ago (by Donna Leinwand Leger, USA Today)

Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) (pdf)

As Marijuana Goes Legal in U.S., Mexican Drug Cartels Pump up Heroin and Meth Sales (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Increasing Addiction to Prescription Opioids Fuels Rise in Heroin Overdose Deaths (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Nelson Goodman, MD 8 years ago
I practiced primary care medicine for forty years and chaired a committee on drugs for my state medical society. I first realized as a medical student that it was not the drugs that were mainly harming people; it was the criminalization and lack of regulation of drugs that caused the most of the problem. It seems to me the criminalization could well be unconstitutional. After all, the foolish people who decided to prohibit alcohol seemed to think they needed to amend the constitution to effectively establish their foolishness.
anonamouse 9 years ago
Virtually all these thousands of deaths are collateral damage in the "war on drugs," for which the drug warriors bear responsibility. These gratuitous deaths are due to the fact that under Prohibition the purity and strength of street drugs are unregulated, so overdose is always a distinct possibility with their use: The sad irony underlying Prohibition is that a so-called "controlled substance" is, in fact, a completely uncontrolled substance. The brain-dead policy of Prohibition is how our complacent, mind-controlled society takes the easy way out; like Pontius Pilate, we wash out hands of the problem and let the chips fall where they may, which is to say, we let the addicts die the death we secretly believe they deserve.

Leave a comment