The CDC Says Heroin Use Is Climbing Among Women 


No time like a Wednesday afternoon to talk about America’s growing heroin problem.

The CDC just released a pretty alarmed new report, which says that in recent years heroin use has increased pretty much across the board in the U.S., with overdoses skyrocketing as well. And: “Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.” Men are still bigger users, NPR notes, but women are catching up. (Not a glass ceiling anybody had on their to-do list, I don’t think.) And it’s doubled among people 18 to 25 in the last ten years.

Feeding the problem: the growing abuse of prescription opioids. If you’re addicted to those, you’re 40 times more likely to have a heroin problem. NPR condenses what CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden had to say in a call:

First, he says, the widespread use of opiate painkillers has primed people for heroin addiction. These drugs and heroin have essentially the same active ingredient. The second punch is that heroin is increasingly available, and often far cheaper than prescription painkillers. Frieden estimates that heroin is available on the street at one-fifth the cost of prescription pain pills.
This problem calls for a comprehensive response — one that recognizes the changing demographics of heroin use, says the CDC report, which is co-authored by Christopher Jones at the Food and Drug Administration along with colleagues from the CDC.

The report provides a number of recommendations for controlling the problem, including treatment for current addicts, cracking down on heroin’s availability and doing a better job of tracking prescription opioids and providing guidelines for their being doled out. Dr. Stephen Patrick, a Tennessee neonatologist, also spoke to ABC News:

He said there were not enough treatment centers to help women seeking treatment for their addiction.
“There is a substantial need for treatment and particularly for treatment for young families,” said Patrick citing how many young women were now addicted to heroin compared to 2002.”It’s caught us off guard. I think women do have special needs … they aren’t being addressed in many communities.”

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Photo via AP Images.

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