Opiate Addiction Statistics


For all you numbers people out there, opiate addiction statistics may help you better understand the growing drug abuse problem reaching epidemic proportions in our country, and worldwide.

Opiate Addiction Statistics

opiate addiction statisticsOpiate Addiction Epidemic

  • In 1915, 63 people were in federal prison for narcotic-related charges. Production of heroin was prohibited in the United States in 1924. In 1928, 2,529 people were in federal prison for narcotic-related charges. In 2004, 155,900 (86.5% of total federal prisoners) were in federal prison for narcotic-related charges.
  • An estimated 4.6 million Americans use prescription opiates each month, which includes heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin, Norco, codeine, morphine, and any other pharmaceutically manufactured opiate pills.
  • Afghanistan grows about 92% of the world’s heroin.
  • There are 5 to 10 million heroin users worldwide at any given time.
  • The United States consumes about 3% of the world’s heroin supply.
  • New York City is estimated to have 200,000 heroin addicts.
  • Approximately 3.5 million people living in the United States said they have tried heroin.
  • In 2004, of all people who entered treatment for heroin addiction, 33% smoked/inhaled the drug while about 66% injected it. (Snorting is now a common way to ingest heroin too now that white heroin is now more available.)

Financials of Opium Addiction

Financially here is how opium (used for heroin) works:

    • Raw opium sells for $100 per kilogram
    • When made into heroin, it sells for $8,000 per kilogram
    • When that reaches the east coast of the U.S., it sells for $55,000 per kilogram


  • Once divided into 25,000 bags (with 40-50 milligrams in each bag) for individual sale at $10 a piece, the total sells for $250,000.


More Opiate Addiction Stats

  • Nearly 50% of U.S. soldiers who served in the Vietnam War had experimented with opium or heroin while deployed, and 20% had become addicted and reported withdrawal symptoms (a definite sign of opiate addiction.)
  • The age of first use for heroin was 22.2 in 2005. (It was 17.4 for marijuana, 17.3 for tobacco, and 16.4 for alcohol, and it seems all of those have gotten younger and younger since.)
  • Over 120 million prescriptions were written for hydrocodone, in the form of Vicodin, Norco, Hycodan, and Tussend, in 2006 alone (the most of any prescription / Phentermine drug.)
  • In 2004, there were 3,800 reported deaths attributed to methadone overdose (compared to 780 deaths in 1999.)
  • In 2005, OxyContin sales were around $1 billion, and that does not include money made on generic versions of the drug.

The dangers are real, and the opiate addiction statistics hopefully show you just how bad it has gotten. Will these global trends continue to increase in the years to come, or have we finally reached the peak and will start to see a decrease in numbers? We can only hope that awareness will encourage people to stop using, and discourage others from starting. No one knows what the future holds, we can only wait and see what happens with these statistics. For more information on proper medications and drugs, visit

*statistics taken from information given in Uppers, Downers, All Arounders, a book by Darrly S. Inaba, Pharm.D. & William E. Cohen.

Kate Green, quality improvement manager at Balboa Horizons, holds a passion for helping others overcome their struggles alcohol and drug addiction. Learn more about opiates by reading her blog post.

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