Heroin Use In The United States Reaches A 20 Year High

The war on drugs in the United States is always a topic of debate, however what isn't debatable according to the UN's World Drug Report is that a heroin epidemic is gripping the United States.

Whatever the war on drugs is accomplishing, it certainly was not keeping one million people in 2014 from using heroin in the United States, which according to the UN report is almost three times as many users as in 2003. Additionally, heroin related deaths have increased five-fold since 2000. Angela Me, the chief researcher for the report said "There is really a huge epidemic (of) heroin in the US. It is the highest definitely in the last 20 years."

According to Reuters, Me named two potential reasons for the uptick in usage. One being that the US legislation introduced in recent years has made it harder to abuse prescription opioids such as oxicodone, a powerful painkiller that can have similar effects to heroin. A second reason is that the supply in the US from Mexico and Colombia is greater, and prices have been depressed in recent years.

In 2014, at least 207,000 deaths globally were drug related, with heroin use and overdose-related deaths increasing sharply also over the last two years according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

"Heroin continues to be the drug that kills the most people and this resurgence must be addressed urgently." said Yury Fedotov, executive director of the UNODC.

Reuters notes that President Obama earlier this year asked Congress for $1.1 billion in new funding over two years to expand treatment for users of heroin and prescription painkillers.

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Sadly, this chart from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows the dramatic increase in the number of heroin related deaths in the United States over recent years.