Bayer-HeroinAnyone working in the field of addiction and recovery has witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of America’s dependence on opioid narcotics. After years of over prescribing prescription medications, followed by government crackdowns which led to a resurgence in demand for heroin, many American’s have been brought to their knees by the poppy.

While government agencies continue to seek out ways of combating the problem, such as promoting the use of prescription-drug-monitoring programs that use databases to track prescriptions; the reality of the situation is analogous to a hydra, cut off one head only to be faced by another. Every attack made against the prescription drug epidemic is merely fuel to the fire that is the heroin scourge. Many addicts, who lose access to their prescription opioids, would rather seek out heroin than reach out for help.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that overdose deaths involving heroin nearly tripled from 1999 to 2012. When one considers that during that same time period drug overdose deaths more than doubled, it is impossible to ignore the gravity of the situation. The report showed that drug overdose deaths rose from 6.1 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 13.1 in 2012.

In 2012 alone, there were 41,502 drug overdose deaths, of which 16,007 involved opioid analgesics and 5,925 involved heroin. Between 2011 and 2012, drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin increased 35 percent, from 1.4 per 100,000 to 1.9.

In October, the CDC released a report which indicated that prescription opioid overdoses were declining, while heroin overdoses were on the rise.

“The rapid rise in heroin overdose deaths follows nearly two decades of increasing drug overdose deaths in the United States, primarily driven by (prescription painkiller) drug overdoses,” the CDC researchers wrote.

When reading the above figures it is difficult to not be discouraged, the numbers represent real people who were overcome by their addiction – son’s, daughter’s, mother’s, and father’s. It is important to remember that every day someone finds recovery for the first time. Help is out there, there is no cure for the disease, but the simple act of reaching out for guidance can open doors to a new way of life. There are millions of alcoholics and addicts, working together every day, to live life one day at a time.