According to a recent CDC report the heroin overdose death rate for 2013 increased by 39% over the previous year, and that is a growing concern for everyone in society. The report by the Center for Disease Control shows that the death of 8,257 Americans in 2013 was caused by an overdose of heroin. This represents a 6% increase from 2012 when all drug poisoning deaths were reviewed. According to a statement by the Office of National Drug Control Policy “These results demonstrate that while the Administration’s efforts to curb the epidemic of the nonmedical use of prescription drugs is working, much more work is needed to improve the way we prevent and treat substance use disorders.” When Attorney General Eric Holder was asked about these statistics he replied “These troubling statistics illustrate a grim reality: that drug, and particularly opioid abuse, represents a growing public health crisis.”
The heroin overdose death rate cited in the CDC report represents the rate of opioid abuse in general, and in 2013 the abuse of opiates was high. Many heroin abusers start out taking prescription pain medications which are legitimately prescribed to the individual for an injury or other medical condition. Over time abuse of the drug occurs and a tolerance develops. Eventually the user can no longer get the prescription painkiller being abused, and they turn to heroin because it is a street drug that is cheaper and often easier to get. In November of 2014 the WHO stated that when naloxene availability is increased this could save 20,000 people from dying due to a heroin overdose.