America's Heroin Epidemic

The heroin epidemic is the most lethal ever seen in the history of the United States. Public health authorities have raised the concern about the growing number of mortality associated with the use and abuse of heroin.

Besides chronic illnesses, an overdose of heroin is one of the leading causes of deaths among American youths right now. This is evident as seen in 2016 where more than sixty-four thousand people perished because of the heroin epidemic. Efforts have been made to address America’s heroin epidemic, but it seems these efforts have not been active as the pandemic gets worse each year.

More specifically, I propose to explore the status of the heroin epidemic while focusing on the measures put in place to manage its wake of destruction. The audience of this research is stakeholders engaged in the formulation of policies and development of rehabilitation facilities aimed at containing the epidemic. This research is beneficial to the reader since it gives an in-depth knowledge about the heroin epidemic in a simple format that can easily be understood.

A Review of the Sources

The literature materials I used for compiling this research were retrieved from Google Scholar. The primary sources used in this paper focuses on America’s heroin epidemic and the contributing factors. I plan to start from the beginning, that is, the causes of America’s heroin epidemic. During my research, I used secondary sources to get the measures that can be used to address this epidemic. Through the secondary sources, I found out that policies aimed to curb abuse of drugs influence people to use heroin.

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Some people, especially those using heroin and other pharmaceutical opioids, can increase their use of heroin if they are cut off prescription by their doctors. Yes, this is information is concrete because by denying opioid prescription, this will cause people to resort to using heroin. However, it is not clear whether the cause of heroin use is because of changes in policies regarding the prescription of opioids.

Further research of the sources made it clear that heroin has affected a lot of families in the society. Heroin seems to cut across all races, although there is a high prevalence among marginalized communities such as Latinos and blacks. The social class also contributes to the heroin epidemic because a good number of users who cannot afford expensive opioids resort to using large quantities of heroin. Benefits of this proposal include making the public aware of the consequences of heroin abuse, make the user aware of the available prevention measures and explore the various policies used to restrict the prescription of opioids by pharmaceuticals (Wood 1166).

I asked myself if restrictions on opioids prescription are what’s causing the heroin epidemic in America, what caused the reemergence of this drug? After in-depth research, I was able to point the cause to the establishment of new heroin market which has expanded to become cheaper. In their text, Bowser, Fullilove, and Word explain the different marketing strategies used by heroin traffickers (Unick). They outline mobile phones as the communication strategy used in the heroin trade. This is because of how reliable it is, thus explaining why the heroin is more abused today than in the past. Increased accessibility and high quality of heroin appear to be primary. This can be related to the Mexican heroin traffickers who expanded their markets to communities which have opioid prescription problems. What came out clear is that addiction to pharmaceutical opioids contributes to the heroin epidemic. When users become used to opioids’ effects, they consume the drug in large amounts until when they cannot afford to purchase the drug anymore. Heroin, which was never thought of before, therefore becomes appealing to them since it is affordable.

Data Collection

The heroin epidemic has cut across all states in the United States. An examination of New York City depicts a scenario in which the use of heroin has grown over the years due to production and distribution (Hamid 375). I used statistical and contextual analysis in my research. My data collection focused on a review of credible scholarly articles that have focused on America’s heroin epidemic. I also used data from the health department to get figures of heroin victims being hospitalized. Interviewing of patients was also part of my data collection method. I propose that this brief, yet in-depth information about the cause of heroin abuse is a critical lens that will help analyze America’s heroin epidemic (Bates 109). My proposal aims to focus on the topics such as for cause, harm and prevention measures which are associated with this epidemic. I plan to use this information in conjunction with others to understand the effect heroin has on its users. It without a doubt that heroin may lead to complications on the user’s body (Volkow 2063). I found out that the complexities may be because of non-sterile injection or the toxicity of heroin. Body complications exhibit themselves on the user’s body through conditions such as cerebral septic emboli and soft tissue infections among other conditions. Besides, heroin can lead to acute conditions which can be life-threatening (Ostling 32). These conditions are opioid-related which may be difficult for medical practitioners to deal with without assistance. Getting familiar with the symptoms related to the heroin epidemic will make diagnosis simpler and in an accurate way.


During my research, I faced various challenges which curtailed almost curtailed my work. The first was limited information. Not many articles give an explicit elaboration about the heroin epidemic. This gap helps to open up the discussion of the available prevention measures related to the heroin epidemic. Besides, I found it challenging interviewing heron victims as they were uncooperative and unwilling to open up. By reviewing various research materials, I realized some of the prevention measures had been overlooked, and it is high time they were fully implemented to combat the epidemic (Bowser 28). Given the dramatic increase in the rate of heroin use and the strong potential for structural reforms currently put in place to reduce a shift of opioid users shifting to heroin, a public awareness campaign is necessary. My research will focus on formulating an active campaign that will target looking for a rise in heroin users. This is a good starting point as it will give an opportunity for the adopting of primary prevention measures that will address overdose of heroin with the aim of reducing deaths (Volkow 2063). Prevention measure may include opioid substitution therapies, that is, buprenorphine, which is successful in treating people who are too dependent on heroin and methadone therapy among other prevention measures.

Apart from primary prevention measures, there are subsequent efforts which include conducting heroin overdose awareness campaigns. These campaigns will incorporate national policies aimed at addressing prescription drug abuse (Bowser 29). Tertiary prevention measure may consist of targeted campaigns to identify and reverse an overdose. This may include intervention measures aimed at reducing harm such as safe injection facilities and rescue breathing among others (Wood 165). Indeed, the success of prevention measures across America in this study suggests the need for national and more funding that will bring more effect with the aim of addressing the heroin epidemic.


In recent years, America has witnessed increased levels of heroin epidemic among the youth. This epidemic has been on an upward trend despite various efforts been taken by the federal government to curb the menace through formulation and implementation of policies. This proposal is compiled after in-depth research of credible sources with the aim of informing the reader of the various measures that can be taken to address this epidemic before it consumes all our generations. I am specifically interested in the heroin prevention measures. These measures include public awareness which will inform users on the effects and benefits of living a drug-free life.

Works Cited

  1. Bates, David DB, et al. ‘Acute Radiologic Manifestations of America’s Opioid Epidemic.’ RadioGraphics 38.1 (2018): 109-123.

  2. Bowser, Benjamin, Robert Fullilove, and Carl Word. ‘Is the new heroin epidemic really new? Racializing heroin.’ Journal of the National Medical Association 109.1 (2017): 28-32.

  3. Hamid, Ansley, et al. ‘The heroin epidemic in New York City: current status and prognoses.’ Journal of Psychoactive Drugs29.4 (1997): 375-391.

  4. Ostling, Peter S., et al. ‘America’s Opioid Epidemic: a Comprehensive Review and Look into the Rising Crisis.’ Current pain and headache report 22.5 (2018): 32.

  5. Unick, George Jay, et al. ‘Intertwined epidemics: national demographic trends in hospitalizations for heroin and opioid-related overdoses, 1993–2009.’ PloS one 8.2 (2013): e54496.

  6. Volkow, Nora D., et al. ‘Medication-assisted therapies—tackling the opioid-overdose epidemic.’ New England Journal of Medicine 370.22 (2014): 2063-2066.

  7. Wood, Evan, et al. ‘Impact of supply-side policies for control of illicit drugs in the face of the AIDS and overdose epidemics: investigation of a massive heroin seizure.’ Canadian Medical Association Journal 168.2 (2003): 165-169.

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America's Heroin Epidemic. (2022, Jun 16). Retrieved from

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