2013 Fed Drugs Survey Shows Continued Heroin Surge

Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire
09/09/2013 –ATIN – It will come as no surprise to treatment centers drug rehabs and alcohol rehabs in addiction treatment “hubs” from South Florida to Minnesota, Arizona and all the way to Southern California that the big news out of the latest federal drugs survey shows continued skyrocketing heroin use, which comes amidst an environment of surging street prices for pharmaceutical opiates after the DEA and FBI prescription drug dragnets of the last few years. Centers have told Treatment Magazine of big spikes in heroin admissions, especially in the key “destination” South Florida marketplace that services much of East Coast addiction treatment demand of the well-insured. Last week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA, released its 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is the nation’s most comprehensive snapshot of drug abuse, tracking use in 2012 from a survey that screened households at over 150,000 addresses and obtaining nearly 70,000 fully completed interviews.

Heroin Surge

Heroin continued to be the survey’s big news, anticipated byTreatment Magazine reporting in June detailing record low prices for the drug in the Northeast early this year – high grade China White @ $5 a hit – that have since also been reported out of places west like Ohio and Chicago in a virulent spread to the suburbs, where people are switching out of increasingly expensive pills into the powerful cheap heroin. According to the survey, the number of people reporting having recently used heroin jumped in 2012 to nearly 650K, more than double the level admitting recent use in 2002. (see chart left) The total number of people abusing heroin also more than doubled in the last decade to almost 475K from over 200K, which helps explain the rip-roaring, blistering sales pace of British pharma Reckitt Benckiser’s blockbuster Suboxone opiate maintenance and detox drug at $1.5B annual rates. The slow pace at which a cheap generic alternative has failed to appear also has kept expensive Suboxone, @ about $7K a year for maintenance, in its market leading position and the subject of lawsuits alleging abuse of market power.

“Continue to Monitor”

Spending $20B a year of taxpayer dollars to supposedly stem the flow of drugs into the country, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske said, at a SAMHSA press conference announcing the drug survey, that his White House Office of National Drug Control Policy would continue to “monitor” the heroin situation. His remarks come amidst what is becoming an almost absurd environment of obvious and complete failure of decades-old policies that overwhelmingly push drug interdiction spending – police interception/supply disruption – over addiction treatment and drug demand management.

The Alcohol Scourge

While the sexy Drug War and sensationalistic overdoses grab headlines, it is the insidious legal high alcohol that continues to blow away all drugs combined, legal and illegal, in terms of death, disease and life destruction – as well as cost to society. In a separate report released last month, the Centers for Disease Control, CDC, tallied the costs of alcohol abuse state-by-state. Excessive alcohol use cost states a median of $2.9B in 2006, ranging from $420M in North Dakota to $32B in California. This means the median cost per state for each alcoholic drink consumed was about $1.90. Binge drinking—consuming 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women—was responsible for more than 70% of these costs.

Cash-Strapped States

The District of Columbia (DC) had the highest per-person cost (almost $1,700), while Utah had the highest cost per drink ($2.74). Furthermore, about $2 of every $5 in state costs were paid by cash-strapped state governments, ranging from 37% of the costs in Mississippi to 45% of the total costs in Utah. These estimates were based on a previous CDC study that found that excessive drinking cost the United States nearly $225B, compared to $370B in costs from addiction overall when legal and illegal drugs are included, but excluding tobacco.

read our report on Record Low Heroin Prices


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