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What You Need to Know About the Opiate Epidemic

Dillon McClernon

Authored by Dillon McClernon

The nation is in the grip of an opiate epidemic of historic proportions and the problem is continuing to grow. In 2014, US Attorney Eric Holder declared heroin and opiate addiction a “public health crisis” in the US. Since then, governments have attempted to increase public awareness, armed first responders with the life-saving anti-overdose medication naloxone (Narcan), and have begun to shift from towards treating drug users rather than prosecuting them. Despite these efforts and the intense focus on the problem, more and more people are becoming addicted.

Although it is prominent, heroin is not at the center of the opiate epidemic. Misuse of prescription opiates is rampant. Many addicts initially enter addiction through prescriptions for pain or other medical problems. This has lead to legislators seeking new ways to limit and monitor the unnecessary prescription of opiates. Another alarming trend is the progression from illegally obtained prescription opiates, more affordable and more deadly heroin, which is now affecting an entirely new segment of our population who in the past have not typically experienced it. This often deadly progression is affecting the nation’s young adult population, who are becoming addicted and overdosing in record numbers. The damaging effects on individual health, families, and communities is continuing to grow. The epidemic is stretch public health resources to its limits. Unfortunately, a general lack of high quality, affordable treatment options leaves many in need without access to adequate care.

Heroin Epidemic Statistics

The following statistics from the Centers for Disease Control highlight the scope of the heroin problem and the need for heroin detox facilities:

  • Heroin use more than doubled among young adults ages 18–25 in the past decade.
  • More than 9 in 10 people who used heroin also used at least one other drug.
  • 45% of heroin users were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.
  • Heroin-related deaths increased by 286% between 2002 and 2013.
  • Heroin use among men increased by 50% between 2002 and 2013.
  • Heroin use among women increased by 100% between 2002 and 2013.

In order to halt the opiate epidemic, there is a need for more affordable, quality heroin detox facilities. Also, it is important to change public perception and attitudes toward addiction. Within the treatment community, understanding of addiction and its effective treatment has evolved tremendously in recent years. However, not enough has been done to educate the public about the causes and treatment of this disease. Today, many still perceive addiction as a lifestyle choice or a personal failing. This false belief leads many to stigmatize addiction and its sufferers. Individuals are less likely to seek help when they feel ashamed of their illness.

RCA is deeply committed to advocating for the rights of patients with substance use disorders, helping to educate our society, and reducing the stigma surrounding addiction and its co-occurring mental health disorders. By advancing our understanding of the disease, RCA hopes to make the process of facing addiction and seeking effective treatment easier for people throughout the nation who are suffering in shame and silence. We believe people in recovery can go on to live the life of their dreams—and we want to help you get there! For more information about our heroin detox facilities, give us a call today at 1-800-RECOVERY.

Authored by

Dillon McClernon

Dillon McClernon

Dillon currently serves as the Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at RCA. After his tenure as Chief Communications Officer and senior advisor to RCA, he opted for a full-time position at RCA where he could build a new team linking sales and marketing to directly impact RCA’s mission of saving 1 million lives.


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