According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:

  • 0.2% of people (roughly 475,000 people) aged 12 and older report using heroin in the past month
  • 0.4% (roughly 948,000 people) reported using it in the past year
  • 1.8% (roughly 4,981,000 people) reported using at least once in their lifetime

Despite slight variations from year to year, the use of heroin has increased over the past decade. One factor driving this increase has been transition from use of prescription opioids to heroin. Ninety-four percent of opioid-addicted people who switched from prescription opioids to heroin reported doing so because prescription opioids “were far more expensive and harder to obtain.” As a result, beginning in 2010, heroin overdose fatalities “began increasing rapidly across the country while fatal overdoses involving prescription opioids began to level off and even declined slightly.

Deaths from heroin overdose nearly tripled from 2010 to 2013. However, it is important to note that the vast majority of people who have ever used opioids – whether prescription medications or heroin – never develop problematic use.

See the fact sheet for more information and sources.