Data Limitations Make Estimating Demographics of Heroin Users in the US Difficult: "The prevalence of heroin use is extremely difficult to estimate despite the fact that harm to society associated with heroin marketing and use is substantial. A disproportionate number of heroin users are part of the nonsampled populations in general prevalence surveys (persons with no fixed address, prison inmates, etc.) Also, heroin users are believed to represent less than one half of one percent of our total population, making heroin usage a relatively rare event.
"In the last three to five years an increasing number of reports suggest that people who inject drugs (PWID) in Russia, Ukraine and other countries are no longer using poppies or raw opium as their starting material, but turning to over-the-counter medications that contain codeine (e.g. Solpadeine, Codterpin or Codelac). Codeine is reportedly converted into desomorphine (UNODC, 2012; Gahr et al., 2012a, 2012b, 2012c; Skowronek, Celinski, & Chowaniec, 2012).
"Other Highlights – Younger Heroin Users:
"During the course of treatment, many treatment seekers stopped using the drugs that they reported using at entry to the study. Lower rates of drug use were recorded at each follow-up. Furthermore, those that continued to use tended to use less. Most of the changes observed occurred by first follow-up. For most forms of drug use, no particular treatment modality was more associated with cessation than any other and the route into treatment (CJS or non-CJS) did not influence drug-use outcomes.
" Heroin was reported as the primary substance of abuse for 26 percent of TEDS admissions aged 12 and older in 2015 [Table 1.1b].
" Sixty-seven percent of primary heroin admissions were non-Hispanic White (41 percent were males and 26 percent were females). Non-Hispanic Blacks made up 14 percent (9 percent were males and 5 percent were females). Admissions of Puerto Rican origin made up 7 percent of primary heroin admissions (6 percent were males and 1 percent were females) [Table 2.3b]. See Chapter 3 for additional data on heroin admissions.
"Naloxone distribution was cost-effective in our base-case and all sensitivity analyses, with incremental costs per QALY [Quality-Adjusted Life-Year] gained much less than $50 000 (Table 2 and Appendix Figure 3, available at www.annals.org; see Appendix Table 3, available at www.annals.org, for detailed results of selected analyses). Cost-effectiveness was similar at starting ages of 21, 31, and 41 years; the greater QALY gains of younger persons were roughly matched by higher costs.
"Naloxone distribution to heroin users would be expected to reduce mortality and be cost-effective even under markedly conservative assumptions of use, effectiveness, and cost. Although the absence of randomized trial data on naloxone distribution and reliance on epidemiologic data increase the uncertainty of results, there are few or no scenarios in which naloxone would not be expected to increase QALYs [Quality-Adjusted Life-Years] at a cost much less than the standard threshold for cost-effective health care interventions.
"Over the past 15 years, six RCTs [Randomized Controlled Trials] have been conducted involving more than 1,500 patients, and they provide strong evidence, both individually and collectively, in support of the efficacy of treatment with fully supervised self-administered injectable heroin, when compared with oral MMT, for long-term refractory heroin-dependent individuals.
"Most heroin (and morphine) trafficked in the Americas is smuggled from Mexico to the United States, with far smaller quantities smuggled from Colombia and Guatemala. Analysis of heroin samples in the United States over the past decade shows the increasing predominance of Mexico (90 per cent of samples analysed in 2015) as a source country of the drug, while the importance of countries in South America (3 per cent) has declined markedly. South-West Asia accounted for around 1 per cent of the samples analysed in 2015.10
Trends in Prevalence of Current Heroin Use in the US: