The Facts

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  • 1 in 5 high school seniors know how to get heroin easily.
  • The vast majority of teens do not use heroin. In a 2017 national survey, only 0.4% of 12th graders used heroin in the past year.1 
  • 95.5% of 12th graders disapprove of taking heroin occasionally.1
  • In 2016, over 600,000 people (12 or older) reported having a heroin use disorder.2


  • Prescription opioid analgesics, specifically those containing oxycodone and hydrocodone, are the most common types of prescription drugs that are diverted for misuse and abused.
  • Each day in the United States, over 174 people die as a result of a drug overdose.3 
  • In 2016, an estimated 3.6 million people (aged 12 or older) reported past month misuse of opioid pain relievers.2
  • 53% of nonmedical users (12 years or older) reported receiving the prescription drugs they most recently used “from a friend or relative for free.”4


  • Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine.
  • ​The death rate of synthetic opioids other than methadone, jumped by 72.2% from 2014 to 2015.5
  • During 2016 alone there were almost 29,000 reports of fentanyl (up from 1,041 reports in 2013).6


young heroin user

Learn More About the Science of Addiction

Explore common misconceptions about opioids through the voices of teens. Go to Operation Prevention.

1Source: University of Michigan, 2017 Monitoring the Future Study. View source here.

2 Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, September 2017.  View source here.

3 Source: Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2016. View source here.

4 Source: Prescription Drug Use and Misuse in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, September 2016.  View source here.

5 Source: Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths — United States, 2010–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 16 December 2016. View source here.

6 Source: “Fentanyl: The Next Wave of the Opioid Crisis.” Statement from Louis J. Milione Assistant Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration. March 21, 2017.