From Dr. Mercola:
Heroin addiction is becoming a serious problem in the U.S., and far from being an inner-city problem, heroin addicts abound in the suburbs of America.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),1 lethal heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2000 and 2013 in the U.S., escalating from 0.7 to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 during this timeframe.
In 2013, more than 46,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, with prescription drugs and heroin topping the list.2 Half, or about 23,000, of these lethal overdoses were due to prescription drugs, with painkillers accounting for about 16,000 deaths.3 About 8,000 deaths were due to heroin.
As discussed in the featured 60 Minutes segment, “Heroin in the Heartland,”4,5 heroin addiction is fueled by legal drug addiction to opioid painkillers which, from a chemical standpoint, are nearly identical to heroin.
Excessive Use of Painkillers Have Created a Nation of Drug Addicts
Many painkiller addicts also end up using heroin when their tolerance level surpasses their allotted prescription dosage, or when they are no longer allowed to refill their prescription.
According to a report8 issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in April 2015:
“Controlled prescription drug abusers who begin using heroin do so chiefly because of price differences, but also because of availability and the reformulation of OxyContin.”
As noted by Forbes,9 the drug industry has a lot to answer for, as drug makers have repeatedly downplayed the addictive nature of their wares while aggressively promoting their use.
Purdue Pharma is just one example. In 2007, the company pled guilty to charges of misbranding, and was fined $600 million for misleading the public about Oxycontin’s addictive qualities.
There’s also the issue of increased supply.
Dr. Meryl Nass,10 has pointed out that opium production in Afghanistan has doubled since the U.S. military entered the region in 2001, and heroin-related deaths started to climb in 2002. She believes this is the real story behind the rise in heroin availability across the U.S..
Heroin Addiction Flourishes in US Suburbs
Wherever it’s coming from, one thing is sure — heroin has become readily available even in rural and suburban areas. As noted by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine,11 whom 60 Minutes interviewed for this segment:
“Heroin has lost its stigma as a poisonous, back-alley drug. There’s no psychological barrier anymore that stops a young person or an older person from taking heroin. There’s no typical [heroin user]. It has permeated every segment of society in Ohio.”
60 Minutes interviews a number of people about how and why they, or their loved one, started using heroin and painkillers — either stolen from a family member or prescribed for things like sports injuries and dental procedures — and how that typically served as the launching pad into illicit heroin