From the Director
Although heroin abuse has trended downward during the past
couple of years, its prevalence is still higher than in the early 1990s.
These relatively high rates of abuse, together with the
significant heroin abuse we are now seeing among school-age youth, the
glamorization of heroin in music and films, changing patterns of drug
use, and heroin's increased purity and decreased prices, make it imperative
that the public have the latest scientific information on this topic.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has developed
this publication to provide an overview of the latest research findings
on heroin abuse and addiction.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug, and its abuse has repercussions
that extend far beyond the individual user. The health and social consequences
of drug abuse - HIV/AIDS, violence, tuberculosis, fetal effects, crime,
and disruptions in family, workplace, and educational environments -
have a devastating impact on society and cost billions of dollars each
Fortunately, the availability of treatments to manage opiate
addiction and the promise of new treatments from research provide hope
for individuals who suffer from addiction and for those around them.
We hope this compilation of scientific information on heroin will help
to inform readers about the harmful effects of heroin abuse and addiction
and will assist in prevention and treatment efforts.
Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D.
National Institute on Drug Abuse