When it comes to finding out information about heroin, statistics can be a useful place to start. Since more treatment centers have opened, particularly in the US and the UK, it has become possible to make relatively accurate statements about the numbers of people addicted to heroin in those countries. Heroin addiction is a serious social problem for many communities, with users often unemployed and homeless, and looking to fund their addiction through begging or crime. In order to work out how best to treat these people, studying statistics is an important way to develop better understanding of heroin use, availability, and addicts’ behavior.
Heroin Use in the US
Taking the US as the baseline for statistics is useful, as a national survey was commissioned in that country about drug use, called the National Household Survey on Drug Use (1999). This survey asked many questions about the household, including how many members of it were using drugs, their ages, their nationality and gender, and evidence of how they used their drugs. From this, it is possible to make some reasonable statements about who uses heroin, how they use it, and how much heroin addiction can cost the serious addict.
Users of Heroin
The 1999 survey found that most users in the US tend to be over the age of 30. Older users were the majority, suggesting that many users live with addiction for several years. It also noted that many young people are experimenting with heroin, because of its availability, and the discovery of extremely pure heroin which can be smoked or ingested rather than intravenously injected. Another survey found that over 3 million people over the age of 12 had tried heroin at least once. Those between 18 and 25 reported using heroin, with 1.6% of this age group admitting to long-term drug use. Males were more likely than females to have tried the drug, or at least admit to doing so.
The number of addicts is fairly consistent, and has been estimated to be between three quarters of a million and one million in the US.
Methods of Taking Heroin
Since there is such a large population of users, it should not be surprising that there are a few methods of taking heroin. The majority of users inject heroin, although the 1999 survey suggested that 75 percent of new users were smoking, rather than injecting, the drug. This is a significant rise, since only 46 percent of new users were smoking the drug in 1991.
Evidence also suggests some contradictory evidence when it came to whether heroin was used socially, or individually. Around 80 percent of respondents to the 1999 survey said that they injected heroin with a partner, or in a group. This evidence contradicts medical findings, which state that around 80% of drug overdose victims are discovered alone. Heroin and or morphine were present in around 51 percent of all drug deaths which were accidental.
Other Statistics on Heroin
There is further information on heroin which suggests that the average addict, rather than heroin user, spends around $100-$200 each day in order to support the habit. This is a considerable dose, when it is remembered that street heroin is typically sold at around $10 per bag. This suggests that users are purchasing bags in large numbers. All told, it is suggested that by the year 2000, users were spending $10 billion each year on drugs.
Consumption of heroin is also high, with around 13.6 tons of heroin being consumed by Americans every year. Estimates suggest that this figure has remained largely unchanged for the past twenty years.
Statistics also show that many users are aware of their condition, with as many as 600,000 people getting treatment for heroin addiction every year. This statistic is somewhat affected by the fact that people being treated often relapse, so some of those 600,000 may be re-occurring patients.
Statistics suggest that the most common source of heroin in the US is South America, with Colombia well known as a large source. Other sources include Guatemala, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico, all of which are supplying heroin of different grades to the United States.