How Federal Policies Have Spawned a Heroin Epidemic

By Dr. Mercola

Heroin addiction is becoming a serious problem in the U.S., and far from being an inner-city problem, heroin addicts abound in the suburbs of America.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),1 lethal heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2000 and 2013 in the U.S., escalating from 0.7 to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 during this timeframe.

In 2013, more than 46,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, with prescription drugs and heroin topping the list.2 Half, or about 23,000, of these lethal overdoses were due to prescription drugs, with painkillers accounting for about 16,000 deaths.3 About 8,000 deaths were due to heroin.

As discussed in the featured 60 Minutes segment, “Heroin in the Heartland,”4,5 heroin addiction is fueled by legal drug addiction to opioid painkillers which, from a chemical standpoint, are nearly identical to heroin.

Excessive Use of Painkillers Have Created a Nation of Drug Addicts

Between 2013 and 2014, heroin use in the U.S. rose by 51 percent,6 and the reason for this resurgence is in large part due to it being less expensive than its prescription counterparts.7

Many painkiller addicts also end up using heroin when their tolerance level surpasses their allotted prescription dosage, or when they are no longer allowed to refill their prescription.

According to a report8 issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in April 2015:

“Controlled prescription drug abusers who begin using heroin do so chiefly because of price differences, but also because of availability and the reformulation of OxyContin.”

As noted by Forbes,9 the drug industry has a lot to answer for, as drug makers have repeatedly downplayed the addictive nature of their wares while aggressively promoting their use.

Purdue Pharma is just one example. In 2007, the company pled guilty to charges of misbranding, and was fined $600 million for

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