Heroin addiction and its use has increased rapidly in the United States in the past few years. The most impacted are the whites in the country, as well as people with low income and poor education.

According to the CDC, in 2015, drug overdose killed 52,404 people in the United States. Out of this number, 63 percent died due to opioid addiction.

Now, a study reveals that heroin addiction has increased fivefold since 2001.

Heroin Addiction Increases Five Times

According to Silvia Martins, the lead researcher of the study, most individuals affected by drug and heroin overdose have limited resources to tackle the problem.

Heroin addiction reportedly impacts white people aged between 18 to 44 years the most. This addiction has been fueled by the misuse of prescribed opioids.

The researchers examined two previous studies, one from 2001 to 2002 and the other from 2012 to 2013. They studied the data of 79,402 individuals to determine the rate of addiction in the country.

The team found that from 2001 to 2002, heroin use for both whites and non-whites were 0.34 percent and 0.32 percent, respectively.

However, by 2012 to 2013, the use of heroin — especially among whites — increased to 1.90 percent. On the other hand, for non-whites, it increased to 1.05 percent in the same period.

A noticeable increase in heroin addiction was also noticed among high school students, as well as those who are under the poverty line.

"The good news is that among all drugs of abuse, heroin and opioids have by far the best treatment medications available," stated Caleb Banta-Green, an associate health service professor at Washington University.

What Has Led To Heroin Addiction In Whites?

According to the study, one of the main reasons behind this heroin epidemic is the use of prescribed opioids. Martins revealed that factors like low cost and easy availability encourage the use of such drugs.

However, the study also noted that many users start by using prescribed opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Most users get addicted to heroin due to lack of proper regulations, which enables people to obtain opioids easily.

Researchers have called for greater restrictions to be imposed on these drugs, so that it reaches only those who require them for medical reasons.

The study was unable to decode any substantial difference when observing which age groups were using heroin the most. However, the researchers found that heroin addiction was substantially more in individuals below 45 years, when compared to those above this age group.

The study has been published in the journal JAMA Psychiatric.

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