Many who become addicted to prescription opioids turn to heroin as a cheaper, more widely available alternative. Among new heroin users in the US, about 4 in 5 reported using prescription opioids before using heroin.
The prescription opioid epidemic, starting in 2010, has been followed by increases in heroin misuse and abuse, and its related health and social consequences.
Heroin Overdose ED visits
Heroin overdose-related ED visits increased by 210% from 2005-2018, then dropped 26% to 684 in 2020 (Figure 1); while heroin overdose-related hospitalizations increased by 163% from 2010-2018, then dropped 30% to 190 in 2020 (Figure 5).
The Antelope Valley region (SPA 1) had the highest rates of heroin overdose ED visits in 2020 (Figures 3-4). The Antelope Valley (SPA 1) and San Fernando (SPA 2) had the highest rates of heroin overdose hospitalizations in 2020 (Figures 7-8).
Figure 1. Heroin overdose-related ED visits, LAC, 2005-2020
Figure 2. Primary heroin overdose ED visits, LAC, 2005-2020
Figure 3. Heroin overdose-related ED visit rate per 100,000, LAC, 2020
Figure 4. Primary heroin overdose-related ED visit rate per 100,000, LAC, 2020
Heroin Overdose Hospitalizations
Figure 5. Heroin overdose-related hospitalizations, LAC, 2005-2020
Figure 6. Primary heroin overdose hospitalizations, LAC, 2005-2020
Figure 7. Heroin overdose-related hospitalization rate per 100,000, LAC, 2020
Figure 8. Heroin overdose-related hospitalization rate per 100,000, LAC, 2020
Heroin Overdose Deaths
The number of heroin-related deaths remained relatively stable from 2007-2016, then increased 129.0% to 300 deaths in 2020 (Figure 9).
Figure 9. Heroin-related deaths (with drug overdose as underlying cause of death), LAC, 1999-2020
Source: CDC Wonder
Heroin Use Disorder Treatment
Primary heroin treatment admissions increased 24% from FY1112 to FY1617, then decreased 51% from FY1617 to FY2021 (Figure 10). Heroin admissions were highest for those aged 26-34 and 45-54 years (Figure 11). Males accounted for 69% of primary heroin treatment admissions to publicly funded treatment programs from FY1112-FY2021 (Figure 12). In LAC, Whites accounted for 48% of primary heroin admissions, followed by Latinxs (39%), and Blacks (8%) (Figure 13).
Figure 12. Primary heroin treatment admissions, by gender, LAC, FY1112-FY2021
Figure 13. Primary heroin treatment admissions, by race/ethnicity, LAC, FY1112-FY2021
Figures 1-8. Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI, formally OSHPD). Nonpublic Inpatient Discharge and Emergency Department data. California Department of Public Health (CDPH).
Figure 9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Multiple Cause of Death 1999-2020 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released December, 2021. Data are from the Multiple Cause of Death Files, 1999-2020, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/mcd-icd10.html on Jul 6, 2022 5:35:11 PM.
Figures 10-13. Los Angeles County Participant Reporting System data. Substance Abuse Prevention and Control, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.