America’s Skyrocketing Heroin Problem


A recent study from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health shows that heroin use in the United States has increased five times within just over a decade. The study examined a survey of national heroin usage from the years 2001–2002 and compared it to statistics for 2012–2013. While U.S. society in general exhibited a widespread rise in heroin use, the highest jump was found among whites, particularly middle-aged males. These make up the biggest demographic of users. Figures for whites alone over the same decade increased six times.

About 3.8 million Americans say that they have used heroin at some point in their lives. The death rate from heroin overdose has more than quadrupled since 2010; and 2015 saw heroin deaths overtake gun homicides for the first time ever. Someone in the U.S. dies nearly every 15 minutes from some form of opioid overdose. America’s toxic drug problem is frightening. President Donald Trump has asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to head up a new drug commission to address the nation’s out-of-control addiction crisis.

What is the cause of this increase in heroin usage, particularly with white males? Some have speculated that it is due to a shrinking middle class, with less economic gains. Factors could include mental problems linked to the state of the economy and an abuse of prescription opioids. As we wrote last year, one factor more likely to be swept under the rug is the legalization of marijuana. Lower demand for cartel-grown marijuana has corresponded to a major increase in Mexican heroin production at a much higher purity level. Legalizing a less-potent drug has only served to make illegal higher-potency drugs more competitive and available.

Heroin is not only a U.S. problem though. It is robbing the livelihoods of 9.2 million users around the world (13.5 million on opioids in general) and taking the lives of about 200,000 yearly—that’s one every three minutes.

We may be living in an “advanced” age of development and “progress,” yet millions upon millions in society are reeling through it in a state of hallucination and psychosis. And where toxic drugs are concerned, the danger goes far beyond just the chemicals themselves. Read about that in senior editor Joel Hilliker’s article “Bath Salts Do Not Turn People Into Flesh-Eating Zombies.” Drug use opens the mind to a much more sinister realm.

A heroin problem, no matter how deep-rooted, is actually fixable. Read Dennis Leap’s “Heroin at Your House?” to find out how.