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Heroin Use in United States Costs Society Billions

Posted On: 06-16-2017
Heroin Use in United States Costs Society Billions
A new study published in the journal PLOS One shows that heroin use cost the United States more than $51 billion in 2015. The cost includes imprisonment and crime related to heroin, as well as treatment for addiction and chronic infectious diseases that are contracted through heroin use, such as hepatitis B and C and HIV. Overdose deaths, lost job productivity, and treating newborns with heroin-related conditions are also all included in the cost.

An estimated one million people in the United States are active heroin users. On average. Each user costs society nearly $51,000 a year. This cost per user is higher for those with chronic illnesses.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ruixuan Jiang, a pharmacoeconomist and a co-author on the study, stated that the number of heroin users in the United States has doubled from 2000 to 2013. According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report 2016, heroin use in the United States is at its highest in 20 years. Heroin overdose rates have also increased—more than quadrupling since 2010.

Study authors indicate that most heroin use starts with an addiction to prescription painkillers. Patients turn to heroin because it is less expensive and often easier to obtain.

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