By Dr. Mercola

A joint report1,2,3,4 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reveals lethal heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2000 and 2013.

Between 2000 and 2010, heroin-related deaths rose at an average rate of 6 percent per year. Then, from 2010 to 2013, the average annual increase suddenly jumped to 37 percent.

What might account for such a radical increase in heroin overdoses?

Prescription Painkillers Pave Way for Heroin Addiction

According to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden, opioid painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet increase your susceptibility to heroin addiction, and the report found that the vast majority — 75 percent — of heroin users started out on prescription painkillers.

Those who abuse prescription opiates have a 40 times greater risk of abusing heroin, and the widespread misuse of prescription painkillers is thought to be at the heart of rising heroin addiction and related deaths.

As reported by Reuters:5

“Frieden said… doctors are prescribing ‘way too much of these medications, and the result of it is large numbers of people who are addicted.’”

Indeed, prescriptions for opioid painkillers have risen by a staggering 300 percent over the past decade.6 As of 2012, 259 million prescriptions for opioids and other narcotic painkillers were written7 in the US.

The trend of painkiller abuse can also be seen in death rates linked to overdoses from prescription painkillers, which rose by 350 percent among men and 500 percent among women in the decade between 1999 and 2010.

Notably, there were four times more deaths from prescription painkillers among women than for cocaine and heroin combined in 2010.8

Heroin Use Surging Among Women and Middle-Class

While heroin use has increased across the board, among both sexes, virtually all age groups, and all income levels, some of the largest increases

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