US heroin users: typically white, suburban women

There has been a demographic shift in American heroin users over the past 50 years, with the average user more likely to be a 23-year-old, white, suburban female than the member of an inner-city minority group as indicated by previous studies.

Washington University and Nova Southeastern University researchers used survey data from almost 2,800 patients currently undergoing treatment for heroin abuse in the US. It revealed that by 2010, 75% of users were found to live in “less urban” areas, half were female and as many as 90% of new users were white.

The profile shift is thought to be associated to the abuse of prescription narcotics, such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and fentanyl (Duragesic), as a handful of addicts after 2000 switched to heroin abuse when unable to afford prescribed medications.

Read more at Washington University and Nova Southeastern University