As the heroin crisis grows, doctors prescribe enough painkillers for every person to have a bottle
Every year in the United States, there are enough opioid painkillers prescribed to give one bottle to every adult in the country. Officials believe the over prescription of painkillers has contributed to the heroin epidemic that lives on every street, neighborhood and city. Student athletes, mothers, fathers and beloved celebrities have all fallen victim to the grips of the addiction.
America's appetite for heroin has grown stronger, with more 28,000 opioid- and heroin-related overdose deaths in 2014, according to the CDC, with numbers only increasing year by year. In response to the epidemic, the Obama administration is treating it as a public health crisis,calling for an allocation of $1.1 billion in new funding to help expand treatment for those seeking it.
Opioid painkillers can be highly addictive, with users 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin. The transition from abusing opioids to heroin can also be linked to money — one 30mg tablet of oxycodone can cost around $50, while a bag of heroin can be purchased in some places for $5.
An estimated 25,000 Americans die annually from opioid overdose, and the numbers are projected to keep rising.
"We are seeing more people killed because of opioid overdose than from traffic accidents — I mean, think about that," Obama said at a March meeting of the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit. "It has to be something right up at the top of our radar screen."
Rare political reporter Yasmeen Alamiri and videographers Tolleah Price and Dan Yar spent months researching and reporting this series — traveling to Maryland, New Hampshire and other heroin-torn places while talking and listening to users, police officers, public figures and devastated families all torn apart by the heroin epidemic. See the full series at on.rare.us/HeroinInAmerica.