Heroin Abuse in New York City

The number of deaths related to heroin abuse in New York City increased by 84 percent between 2010 and 2012. In 2010, the death rate was 3.1 per 100,000 residents due to causes related to heroin. By 2012, the rate increased to 5.7.

In neighboring Long Island, the number of heroin abusers entering drug treatment centers increased to 767 in January 2014, In 2009, the drug rehab centers were averaging 100 heroin abusers per month.  Public health programs in neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Vermont all have seen similar increases in heroin addiction.

The trends in the Northeastern US is similar to the rise across the country. Between 2007 and 2012, the rate of heroin abuse in the United States increased by 79 percent. A total of 669,000 people in the US reported that they used heroin in 2012.

Many of the heroin abusers originally become addicted to prescription drugs. 80 percent of the people who used heroin in 2011 was also involved in prescription drug abuse. While hooked to prescription pain kills, the user turns to heroin due to its cheaper cost. For example, in Long Island, a pill of the painkiller Vicodin costs $30 on the black market. A bag of heroin, which can offer the same high, is sold for $10.

(The cost of heroin on the black market.)

The heroin being sold in the United States is also becoming stronger. In the 1970s, the heroin seized on the streets by police were later found to have a 5 percent purity level.  In 2014, the heroin being sold has a 60 to 70 percent purity.

Source:  Carol Chen and Del Quentin Wilber, “Heroin Resurgence Sparked by Cheap Cost, Easy Access,” Bloomberg Businessweek, February 3, 2014.