Heroin use and heroin-linked deaths are on the rise in cities and states across the country, as law enforcement agencies and policy experts struggle to enact programs to stop the halt the dangerous drug’s growing presence.
In Tennessee, newly released official state data show 454 patients sought treatment for heroin in 2013. In 2015, the figure rose to 839, an increase of 84 percent.
In Hawaii, experts say heroin addiction is growing substantially.
“It’s increasing,” said Alan Johnson, CEO of the Hina Mauka treatment center, according to a report by Hawaii News Now. “It’s alarming to the extent that it’s increasing."
“We’re starting to see them in treatment here when they’re 18 or 21, which is a pretty young crowd,” Johnson said.
In Colorado, the number of heroin-related fatalities has increased by 756 percent statewide since 2002, and fatalities in Denver have risen by 933 percent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports heroin overdoses nationwide have quadrupled since 2010, and death rates increased by greater than 20 percent from 2014 to 2015. Disturbingly, the CDC also reports, “Some of the greatest increases have occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes. In particular, heroin use has more than doubled in the past decade among young adults aged 18 to 25 years.”
[graphiq id="h63EXYyIIPr" title="Fatal Overdoses on Heroin in the United States Over Time" width="600" height="644" url="https://sw.graphiq.com/w/h63EXYyIIPr" frozen="true"]
Experts believe one of the most important contributing factors behind the rising use of heroin is the federal government’s recent crackdown on the abuse of prescription opioids, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. Addicts hooked on prescription drugs have turned to heroin, which is also an opioid, to satisfy their addition. Law-enforcement agencies report much of the heroin is pouring into the United States from Mexico and South America.
According to a report by WKRN-TV in Tennessee, a 200 milligram prescription opioid pill can cost as much as $200 on the black market. The same high could be achieved with only $40 worth of heroin.
To battle the skyrocketing heroin crisis, President Donald Trump announced in his recent budget proposal for 2018 a “$500 million increase above 2016 enacted levels to expand opioid misuse prevention efforts and to increase access to treatment and recovery services to help Americans who are misusing opioids get the help they need.”
Trump has also ordered the federal government to begin construction on a substantial wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it's now accepting proposals to design and construct the border wall. The proposals are due by March 29, according to a report by CNBC.