The 6 stats you need to know to understand America's heroin epidemic

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Unlikely Face of U.S. Heroin Epidemic

Opioids. Everyone's talking about them.

In recent months, the family of drugs — which includes heroin and prescription painkillers like oxycodone — has become a fixture in the country's collective consciousness. Last month, President Barack Obama pledged $1.1 billion in funding to fight Americans' abuse of heroin and prescription opioid painkillers.

This year's Super Bowl, viewed by more than 110 million people, even featured an ad for medication to fight opioid-induced constipation — suggesting the drugs are nearly as commonplace in our culture as Coca-Cola, Doritos and big trucks driving through mud.

And on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released official 2016 guidelines for prescribing opioids — namely, that doctors should avoid doing it.

The 6 Stats You Need to Know to Understand America's Heroin Epidemic
Source: Getty Images

"More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses," CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. "We must act now. Overprescribing opioids — largely for chronic pain — is a key driver of America's drug-overdose epidemic. The guideline will give physicians and patients the information they need to make more informed decisions about treatment."

Of course, some folks depend on opioids to manage their chronic pain, and use them responsibly. Still, there's no question America has a problem with heroin and prescription opioid painkillers. These statistics show just how serious the problem has become.

1. The U.S. makes up only 4.6% of the world's population — but we consume 80% of the world's opioids, according to ABC News.

Americans also consume 99% of the world's hydrocodone.

"There is ... this national problem we have, which is that there's a pill for every ill," Dr. Ruth Potee, a Massachusetts family physician and the Opioid Task Force's medical advisor, told Mic after the opioid-related Super Bowl ad aired.

"Are we really in more pain in this country?" Potee asked. "Really, we're not. We haven't evolved to be more pained. Our strategies of managing people's pain are so limited."

The 6 Stats You Need to Know to Understand America's Heroin Epidemic
Source: Getty Images

2. Opioid prescriptions per capita increased 7.3% from 2007 to 2012, according to the CDC's 2016 guidelines for prescribing opioids.

In 2012, medical providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers — nearly a bottle for every person in the country.

The 6 Stats You Need to Know to Understand America's Heroin Epidemic
Source: Getty Images

3. An increasing number of people are trying heroin for the first time, according to a report by Heroin.net.

In 2002, 117,000 people tried heroin for the first time. In 2014, that number was 212,000 — an 81% increase. That means an average of 600 people tried heroin for the first time each day, Heroin.net found.

The 6 Stats You Need to Know to Understand America's Heroin Epidemic
Source: Getty Images

4. Heroin-related overdose deaths increased by 286% from 2002 to 2013, according to the CDC, with more than 8,200 people dying in 2013.

The 6 Stats You Need to Know to Understand America's Heroin Epidemic
Source: Getty Images

5. Heroin use among 18- to 25-year-olds has more than doubled between the periods of 2002 to 2004 and 2011 to 2013, according to the CDC.

Rates of people who used heroin went from 3.5 per 1,000 people in 2002-2004 to 7.3 per 1,000 people in 2011-2013 — an increase of 109%.

The 6 Stats You Need to Know to Understand America's Heroin Epidemic
Source: Getty Images

6. Law enforcement is seizing more and more heroin each year, according to the Heroin.net report.

Heroin seizures increased 81.5% from 2010 to 2014. The average size of each heroin seizure has been increasing, too — from from 0.86 kilograms in 2010 to 1.74 kilograms in 2014.

"This abundance of heroin across the country can, of course, mean only one thing: an abundance of people using it," the report said.

The 6 Stats You Need to Know to Understand America's Heroin Epidemic
Source: Heroin.net

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The 6 stats you need to know to understand America's heroin epidemic
In this May 13, 2015 photo, the contents of a drug overdose rescue kit is seen at a training session in Buffalo, N.Y., on how to administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin and prescription painkillers. The kits are being provided to community members in Erie County who seek training in how to recognize a potential drug overdose and administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin and prescription painkillers. New York and other states have been equipping lay people, as well first responders and families of addicts, with naloxone in an effort to increase the chances it will be there when needed. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)
In Thursday, July 30, 2015 photo Ryan Kinsella poses outside his bicycle repair business in Penobscot, Maine. Kinsella broke his back in a rock climbing accident in 2002. The accident left him with partially paralyzed legs. He is recovering from a long battle with hepatitis C., which he contracted by sharing IV drug needles. The rise of cheap heroin has brought a rise in hepatitis C. Perhaps nowhere is the problem starker than in Downeast Maine, which has the highest hepatitis C rate in a state with quintuple the national average. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
An anti-narcotics agent walks over seized drugs as the narcotics are prepared to be burned in Panama City, Thursday, July 23, 2015. According to authorites, they incinerated six tons of drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and heroin, all seized within the last month. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
This April 28, 2015, photo provided by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office shows a portion of recently confiscated heroin. Authorities in Philadelphia say a drug probe led to the confiscation of 22 pounds of heroin with a street value of $3.3 million. (Philadelphia District Attorney's Office via AP)
This Wednesday, June 10, 2015 photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, packages of hard drugs are seen in the rear driver side quarter panel of a car carrying more than $377,000 worth of heroin and methamphetamine, seized at the U.S.-Mexico border port of entry in Nogales, Ariz. Authorities are reporting an alarming increase in the number of methamphetamine seizures at border ports of entry. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP)
In this Jan. 27, 2015 photo, a dead poppy flower stands out after the government aerially sprayed the poppy field with a herbicide in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains of Guerrero state, Mexico. A community leader said the aerial spraying "poisons the land, the water, and the people and animals who use the water. It's okay if the government wants to combat these crops, but they should do it manually, on the ground, rather than with aerial spraying." (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
This April 28, 2015, photo provided by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office shows a portion of recently confiscated heroin. Authorities in Philadelphia say a drug probe led to the confiscation of 22 pounds of heroin with a street value of $3.3 million. (Philadelphia District Attorney's Office via AP)
A firearm and 154 pounds of heroin worth at least $50 million are displayed at a Drug Enforcement Administration news conference, Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in New York. The DEA called the heroin seizure its largest ever in New York state. Officials said on Tuesday that most of the drugs were found in an SUV in the Bronx following a wiretap investigation. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
This Tuesday, April 7, 2015 photo provided by the FBI shows seized guns displayed during a news conference in Santa Maria, Calif. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller says that agents and local law enforcement officers raided houses Tuesday, April 7, 2015, morning and made arrests in the Santa Maria area related to a federal indictment. The indictment charges five members of a family and seven others with selling heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. The 17-count indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court says they sold some drugs to informants working with federal agents. (AP Photo/FBI)
In this March 2, 2015 photo, Alicia Gibbons holds an empty bottle of naloxone that she used to save the life of her daughter Ashley at their home in Mays Landing, N.J. Officials across the country are agreeing that it makes sense to hand out the antidote to police, families of addicts and drug users themselves but price of naloxone, sold in the U.S. under the brand name Narcan, has doubled in the past year. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
This photo taken Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, and provided by Delaware State Police, shows what they say are 15,000 packets heroin found in the car of Davon Tucker, of Paterson, N.J., during a traffic stop in Milton, Del. (AP Photo/Delaware State Police)
In this Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 photo, powder flies as an anti-narcotics agent hacks open a package of cocaine with a machete before it's burned on the outskirts of Panama City. According to police, they'll destroy on Friday just over 11 tons of cocaine, marijuana and heroin, seized within the last three months. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
An anti-narcotics agent holds a machete as he prepares to hack open packages of cocaine before they're burned on the outskirts of Panama City, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. According to police, on Friday they'll destroy just over 11 tons of cocaine, marijuana and heroin, seized within the last three months. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
An anti-narcotics agent sprays gasoline on seized drugs to be burned on the outskirts of Panama City, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. According to police, on Friday they'll destroy just over 11 tons of cocaine, marijuana and heroin, seized within the last three months. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
Criminal experts display glasses filled with heroin at the headquarters of the federal police in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. German authorities have seized 330 kilograms (728 pounds) of heroin worth an estimated 50 million euros (US$63 million) that smugglers brought to Europe hidden in a shipment of cucumbers and garlic from Iran. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
A city employee organizes bags of seized cocaine to be destroyed at a police base in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Police say they burned on Tuesday more than 11 tons of drugs including cocaine, marijuana, opium and heroin that was seized over the last 5 months. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
EMBARGOED UNTIL 3 AM APRIL 28--Syringes are packaged at Boom Health center for distribution to drug addicted users, Friday April 25, 2014 in Bronx, N.Y. New York lawmakers are putting forward a package of legislation that seeks to fight the resurgence of heroin with tougher penalties for dealers, more funding for overdose-reversal drugs and increased insurance coverage for treatment. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
PORTLAND, ME - AUGUST 3: Peppermint Park in Portland Tuesday, August 3, 2015. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
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