The rates of death due to heroin overdoses have nearly quadrupled in the US in the past decade, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The sharp upswing has to do with more people using heroin, according to the report, thanks in part to the drug’s wider availability and lower prices. Drug users have also sought out heroin as a cheaper alternative to prescription opioids.
“They are addicted to prescription opiates because they are essentially the same chemical with the same effect on the brain as heroin,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said at a news conference, according to NBC. “Heroin costs roughly five times less than prescription opiates on the street.”
The 18- to 25-year-olds are the dominant heroin users in the US.
CDC data from earlier this year show the rise in drug-related deaths involving heroin per age group, for adults.