54 Heroin Statistics, Facts & Demographics

13.5 million people worldwide use opioids, including 9.2 million who use heroin specifically (UNODC).

Posted on
August 23, 2023

Top 10 Heroin Statistics

  • 13.5 million people worldwide use opioids, including 9.2 million who use heroin specifically (UNODC).
  • In the United States, 81,000 people tried heroin for the first time in 2019 (SAMHSA).
  • Heroin is responsible for an estimated 45% of all drug-related deaths worldwide (World Health Organization).
  • The number of heroin-related overdose deaths in the US has more than quintupled since 2010, from 3,036 to 15,754 in 2019 (CDC).
  • Approximately 80% of heroin users first misused prescription opioids before transitioning to heroin (NIH).
  • There has been a 104% increase in the number of pregnant women using heroin from 2002 to 2012 in the United States (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • About 23% of individuals who use heroin develop an opioid use disorder (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • In 2019, 2.4 million years of healthy life were lost worldwide due to heroin use (Global Burden of Disease Study).
  • The global market value of heroin is estimated at $55 billion (UNODC).
  • The average purity of heroin in the United States has increased from 10% to 40% since the 1980s, contributing to the rise in overdose deaths (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
Today's Heroin Epidemic Infographics | VitalSigns | CDC

Heroin Use and Demographics

  • Heroin use is more common among men than women (SAMHSA).
  • In the US, heroin use is highest among 18-25-year-olds (SAMHSA).
  • The rate of heroin use is 2.5 times higher among individuals with an annual income of less than $20,000 compared to those earning $50,000 or more (SAMHSA).

How Many People Are Addicted to Heroin?

  • According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 23% of individuals who use heroin develop an opioid use disorder.
  • The World Health Organization estimates that over 1 million people worldwide suffer from heroin addiction.
  • In the United States, an estimated 626,000 people aged 12 or older had a heroin use disorder in 2019, accounting for about 0.2% of the population (SAMHSA).
  • Heroin addiction rates have been steadily increasing in recent years, with a 31% increase in heroin use disorders between 2002 and 2019 (SAMHSA).

Most Common Causes of Heroin Abuse

  • Genetics and family history: Studies suggest that genetic factors account for approximately 40-60% of the risk for developing an opioid use disorder (NIH).
  • Environmental influences: Exposure to drug-abusing peers or a dysfunctional home environment can increase the likelihood of heroin abuse by as much as 62% (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Mental health disorders: Individuals with mental health disorders are at a higher risk of abusing substances, including heroin. Around 50% of people with severe mental illness are also affected by substance use disorder (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • History of substance abuse: A history of previous substance abuse increases the risk of using heroin. For instance, individuals who have misused prescription opioids are 19 times more likely to start using heroin than those without such history (NIH).
  • Early initiation of substance use: Early exposure to drugs or alcohol during adolescence can increase the likelihood of developing a heroin addiction later in life. Adolescents who engage in drug use before age 14 have a 33% chance of developing a substance use disorder compared to only 6% among those who started using after age 18 (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

Heroin Abuse by State

  • California: In 2019, California reported a heroin use rate of 0.25% among its population (California Department of Public Health).
  • New York: New York experienced a heroin use rate of 0.28% in the same year (New York State Department of Health).
  • Florida: Heroin use in Florida reached a rate of 0.22% in 2019 (Florida Department of Health).
  • Texas: The Lone Star State had a heroin use rate of 0.18% in 2019 (Texas Department of State Health Services).
  • Ohio: Ohio's heroin use rate was notably higher at 0.32% in the same year (Ohio Department of Health).
  • Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania reported a heroin use rate of 0.29% in 2019 (Pennsylvania Department of Health).
  • Illinois: In Illinois, the heroin use rate stood at 0.27% for that year (Illinois Department of Public Health).
Trends in Heroin Use in the United States: 2002 to 2013

Heroin-Related Death Rates

  • United States: In 2019, heroin was involved in 14.4% of all drug overdose deaths in the US, a significant decrease from its peak of 25.4% in 2016 (CDC).
  • Europe: Approximately 17% of drug-related deaths in Europe are attributed to heroin use, with the highest rates found in the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Estonia (EMCDDA).
  • Australia: Heroin accounts for around 20% of opioid-induced deaths in Australia, with a mortality rate of 1.5 per 100,000 people (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).
  • Canada: In 2019, heroin was involved in approximately 10% of opioid-related deaths across Canada (Government of Canada).
  • Russia: Russia has one of the highest heroin death rates globally due to its proximity to Afghanistan's opium production; it is estimated that between 50-70% of all drug-related deaths are linked to heroin use (UNODC).

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Heroin Use

  • Afghanistan: The country with the highest rate of opiate use, including heroin, at 5.2% of its population aged 15-64 years old (UNODC).
  • Russia: Russia has a high prevalence of heroin use, with an estimated 2.3% of the adult population using opiates, primarily heroin (UNODC).
  • Iran: Iran experiences a high rate of opiate use, including heroin, affecting around 2.1% of its adult population (UNODC).
  • Maldives: This island nation has a significant issue with heroin use, with approximately 2.0% of its adult population affected by opiate abuse (UNODC).
  • Estonia: With a high rate of opioid consumption and overdose deaths in Europe, Estonia sees about 1.7% of its adult population using opiates such as heroin (EMCDDA).
  • United States: Heroin use in the United States affects roughly 0.33% of the total population aged 12 or older (SAMHSA).
  • Scotland: In Scotland, an estimated 0.9% of the adult population is affected by heroin use (Scottish Government).
  • Switzerland: The prevalence of heroin use in Switzerland is approximately 0.7% among its adult population (Swiss Federal Office of Public Health).
  • Australia: Heroin use affects about 0.2% of Australia's population aged 14 and older (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)).
  • Germany: In Germany, roughly 0.2% of the adult population uses heroin or other opiates (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction)).

Top Countries with the Lowest Heroin Use

  • Iceland: Heroin use is extremely low in Iceland, with only 0.01% of the adult population using opiates (EMCDDA).
  • Singapore: The strict drug policies in Singapore result in a very low heroin use rate of approximately 0.02% among its adult population (World Health Organization).
  • Japan: With strong societal disapproval and enforcement, Japan has a low heroin use rate of around 0.03% among adults (UNODC).
  • Saudi Arabia: Strict drug laws contribute to a low opiate use prevalence, including heroin, at about 0.04% of the adult population in Saudi Arabia (UNODC).
  • South Korea: South Korea's restrictive drug policies lead to a low prevalence of heroin use at approximately 0.05% among adults (Korean Institute of Criminology).
Trends in Heroin Use in the United States: 2002 to 2013

Heroin Use among Teenagers

  • United States: In 2019, approximately 0.1% of American teenagers aged 12 to 17 reported using heroin at least once in their lifetime (SAMHSA).
  • Europe: European data shows that about 0.3% of students aged 15-16 have tried heroin at some point in their lives (EMCDDA).
  • Canada: Among Canadian high school students, approximately 0.2% reported using heroin at least once during their adolescence (Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction).
  • Australia: In Australia, around 0.1% of teenagers aged 14 to 19 have used heroin at least once in their lives (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)).
  • United Kingdom: The prevalence of heroin use among British teenagers aged 16 to 19 is estimated to be around 0.2% (UK Home Office).


Frequently Asked Questions about Heroin Statistics

What are the long-term effects of heroin use?

Long-term effects of heroin use include physical dependence, addiction, collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, liver and kidney disease, lung complications, and increased risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis B and C.

How is heroin typically consumed?

Heroin can be injected, snorted or smoked. Injection provides the fastest onset of effects but also carries the highest risk for health complications.

Are there any effective treatments for heroin addiction?

Yes, there are evidence-based treatments available for heroin addiction such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using methadone or buprenorphine and behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management.

Is it possible to overdose on heroin?

Yes, a heroin overdose can occur when a person takes too much of the drug in a short period. Overdose symptoms include slow or shallow breathing, blue lips and nails, clammy skin, convulsions, coma and even death.

How has the opioid epidemic impacted heroin use in recent years?

The opioid epidemic has contributed to an increase in heroin use as people who become addicted to prescription opioids may turn to cheaper alternatives like heroin to satisfy their cravings.

What is being done to combat the rising rates of heroin abuse?

Efforts to combat rising rates of heroin abuse include increasing access to naloxone (a medication that reverses opioid overdoses), expanding treatment options such as MAT programs and telehealth services and implementing policies that reduce prescription opioid misuse.

Can fentanyl-laced heroin be more dangerous than regular heroin?

Yes, fentanyl-laced heroin poses a higher risk for overdose due to fentanyl's potency being up to 50 times stronger than pure morphine or heroin. Even a small amount of fentanyl can cause an overdose in users who are not aware that their heroin is laced with the powerful synthetic opioid.

How do socioeconomic factors contribute to heroin use?

Socioeconomic factors such as poverty, unemployment, and lack of education can increase the risk of substance abuse, including heroin use. People facing these challenges may turn to drugs as a means to cope with stress or escape from difficult situations.


In conclusion, heroin statistics reveal a concerning global issue with significant impacts on public health and communities. The prevalence of heroin use varies across countries, with some regions experiencing higher rates due to factors such as proximity to drug production and socioeconomic challenges.

The opioid epidemic has contributed to increased heroin use in recent years as people seek more affordable alternatives to prescription opioids. Addressing the complex issue of heroin abuse requires a multifaceted approach, including expanding access to evidence-based treatment options, implementing preventive measures, and raising awareness about the dangers associated with this powerful drug.

By understanding these statistics, policymakers and healthcare professionals can better tailor their interventions and strategies to combat the devastating consequences of heroin addiction on individuals and society as a whole.







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