Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications in 2012 – enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. Opioids are a class of prescription pain medications that includes hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone. Heroin belongs to the same class of drugs, and four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription opioid pain medications.

Accordingly to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2010 almost 1 in 20 adolescents and adults – 12 million people – used prescription pain medication when it was not prescribed for them or only for the feeling it caused. While many believe these drugs are not dangerous because they can be prescribed by a doctor, abuse often leads to dependence.  And eventually, for some, pain medication abuse leads to heroin.

Resources: 

National Drug Control Strategy

Date: 
Dec, 2014
Resource Type: 

The 2014 National Drug Control Strategy, a 21st century approach to drug policy that is built on decades of research demonstrating that addiction is a disease of the brain—one that can be prevented, treated, and from which people can recover. This document lays out an evidence-based plan for real drug policy reform, spanning the spectrum of effective prevention, early intervention, treatment, recovery support, criminal justice, law enforcement, and international cooperation.

Today’s Heroin Epidemic

Date: 
Jul, 2015
Resource Type: 

Each month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) release and monthly report called CDC Vital Signs. The July 2015 report focuses on today’s heroin epidemic and includes the latest statistics, response and prevention guidance, and what can be done at the federal, state, and provider levels.