Facts about Opioids and Heroin


Overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers and heroin have been sharply increasing since 2010 and are the biggest driver behind the growing number of drug overdose deaths nationwide.

More people have died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2014 than during any previous year on record.

In 2014, drug overdoses killed 1 ½ times more people in the United States than motor vehicle crashes. Nearly half a million people in the United States have died from drug overdoses between 2000 and 2014.

Opioids and pain relievers overdose rates have continued to increase over the past five years. When opioid abusers run out of access to pills, they often turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative. Between 2013 and 2014, heroin use has risen sharply, and deaths from heroin use increased 28 percent. 

Since 2010, heroin deaths have significantly increased by 248 percent

Why is this happening?

  • Heroin availability at the retail level in many US markets is a high purity
  • The number of heroin users has more than doubled over the past five years, with a 51 percent increase between 2013 and 2014
  • Approximately 80 percent of new heroin users are coming to heroin after having abusing prescription opioids. Heroin, on the other hand, has varying purities, adulterants, making it much easier to overdose.

This interactive map by the CDC illustrates each state’s death by overdose statistics in 2013 and 2014. 

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention