Heroin Use Statistics May Be Even Higher Than Thought

Think federal government reports on addiction and overdoses were staggering? New information shows the numbers may be even higher than previously thought. 

An article in The Washington Post reports that the National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), may be underestimating the prevalence of heroin use disorder due to two flaws in its process:

Consider the question of how many Americans have a diagnosable heroin use disorder. The 591,000 figure quoted virtually every day in the media and in political debates comes from the federal government’s annual National Household Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). This survey provides accurate information for many substance use and mental health-related indicators but has two serious flaws that lead it to dramatically underestimate the prevalence of heroin use disorder. First, it excludes people who are incarcerated and people who are living on the street, both of whom have very high rates of drug use. Second, it relies on self-reports: While most people are comfortable telling government surveyors about their use of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana, many understandably fear acknowledging use of heroin.

The article notes that the prevalence of heroin use disorder can be more than double the survey’s estimates, but because of lack of government funding for such research the true numbers are not known.

Read The Washington Post to learn more.