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Heroin Use Increasing among Women

Heroin use is on the rise in the U.S. and the demographics of the drug are also changing. Today’s heroin user is as likely to be a woman, and an affluent one at that, rather than young men with lower income levels that have been common heroin abusers in the past. While experts understand why the demographics involving heroin use have changed, determining how to handle the increasing use and the different demographics may be more challenging to address.

CDC Finds Increases in Use across the Board

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that heroin use is on the rise among every age group and income level. The agency attributes this increase, at least in part, to the increase in prescription opioid addiction that has become apparent in recent years. As physicians became more liberal in their prescription of opioids like Vicodin and OxyContin to treat both acute and chronic pain, the number of people becoming addicted to the drugs also went up proportionately.

Heroin Use and Prescription Narcotics

Specifically, the CDC found that around 45 percent of heroin addicts were also addicted to prescription painkillers between 2011 and 2013. That number marks a rate more than double the addiction rates recorded between 2002 and 2004. CDC Director Tom Frieden told CBS News that prescription drug abuse is the “strongest risk factor for heroin abuse or dependence.” The CDC report noted that people addicted to prescription narcotics were 40 times more likely to abuse heroin.

Explaining Demographic Changes

This trend explains the demographic changes also seen in heroin abuse. Since women and upper-income individuals are often the ones seeking pain relief from their physicians, they are also the ones most likely to become addicted to the substances. Because it can become difficult and expensive to maintain a prescription drug addiction, users often turn to buying heroin on the street because it is cheaper and more readily available.

The Dangers of Heroin for Women

Heroin is a dangerous drug for anyone, but it can be particularly risky for women for a variety of reasons. First, women are more likely to be introduced to heroin by a sexual partner, which increases their risk of contracting HIV. Women also feel more social pressure to use than men, which makes it more likely they will try the drug at some point in their lives.


Heroin is a potently addictive and often deadly drug that can hook people even after the first use. Breaking free from a heroin addiction usually requires professional treatment and recovery support, but it can be done. To get help for your addiction today, contact Pasadena Recovery Center at 866-663-3030.

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