Opioids as MedicationsPage 13 of 17

11. Heroin Use on the Rise

Research suggests that prescription opioids are becoming the gateway to heroin use. Nearly half of young people who inject heroin report that they first used prescription opioids but found it is cheaper and easier to obtain heroin. Opioid users may progress to crushing prescription opioids to snort or inject, which yields a more intense high, and heroin can readily replace that experience. The greatest danger of heroin on the black market is that the user has no way of knowing the dosage (NIDA 2014). Heroin overdoses have more than tripled since 2010, leading to more than 10,500 deaths in 2014 (USDHHS, 2016).

The Food and Drug Administration along with the USDHHS and other organizations are working with localities to allow and teach the use of naloxone (Narcan) by laypersons as a quick response to potential opioid overdoses (Lurie, 2015). See the Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System funded by NIDA to learn about the laws related to the use of naloxone in your state.