“I’ve been with DEA almost 30 years and I have to tell you, I have never seen it this bad,” said John Riley, Acting Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
In April, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a report which found that 681,000 Americans aged 12 and older used heroin in the last year. The number of people addicted to heroin rose from 214,000 in 2002 to 517,000 in 2013.
“The DEA estimates that there are about 600,000 heroin users in the United States, which is three times the number in 2012,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia. “Tragically, that number is expected to rise.”
The heroin problem in the U.S. is directly tied to the prescription drug crisis which has been plaguing the country since the late ‘90’s. A number of people who get hooked on prescription opioids, such as OxyContin ® (oxycodone), turn to heroin a cheaper and stronger alternative - especially after the government began cracking down on prescription drug abuse.
“Once someone is addicted to a prescription opioid, the need to satisfy their addiction outweighs the stigma attached to heroin use,” said Goodlatte in a news release. “Additionally, it is far easier to pay $10 for a dose of heroin than $80 for an oxycodone tablet.”