According to the January 2003 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Report published by SAMHSA's OAS, the incidence of abuse of prescription opioid pain medications (also known as narcotic analgesics) such as hydrocodone and oxycodone has risen markedly in recent years (Crane 2003). From 1994 to 2001, there was a 117% increase in emergency room visits related to opioid analgesic abuse. According to the DAWN Mortality Data Report for 2002 (SAMHSA 2002), hydrocodone ranked among the 10 most common drugs related to deaths in 18 cities. Oxycodone ranked among the 10 most common drugs related to deaths in 19 cities, including Philadelphia (88), Baltimore (34), Boston (34), Phoenix (34), and Miami (28).
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), there were an estimated 810,000 to 1,000,000 individuals addicted to heroin in the US in the year 2000 - which is the highest number since the mid-to-late 1970s (ONDCP 2003). Several factors have contributed to this increase. Historically, heroin purity has been less than 10 percent. By the late 1990s, however, purity was between 50 and 80 percent.
Because individuals can become addicted to or overdose from heroin taken via any route, the increase in the type and number of routes used has lead to a rise in new cases of heroin addiction across all socio-demographic categories.
The rise of heroin use appears to be a national phenomenon in the United States. Heroin overdose deaths have risen sharply, as have emergency department admissions involving heroin. The most recent data comes from SAMHSA's DAWN reports, which can be accessed via the web at the following sites:
To suppress the debilitating symptoms of cravings and withdrawal, enabling the patient to engage in therapy, counseling and support, so they can implement positive long-term changes in their lives which develops into the new healthy patterns of behavior necessary to achieve sustained addiction remission. - explain -