INTERNATIONAL STATISTICS

  • An estimated 13.5 million people in the world take opioids (opium-like substances), including 9.2 million who use heroin.
  • In 2007, 93% of the world’s opium supply came from Afghanistan. (Opium is the raw material for heroin supply.) Its total export value was about $4 billion, of which almost three quarters went to traffickers. About a quarter went to Afghan opium farmers.
  • The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported 153,000 current heroin users in the US in 2007. Other estimates give figures as high as 900,000.
  • In the UK, there are an estimated 39,000 heroin users.
  • The highest estimates of opioid use in Europe are reported by Ireland, followed by Latvia, Luxembourg and Malta. Ireland also has the third highest death rate from drug use in Europe, with an average of one death by overdose a day.
  • Opiates, mainly heroin, were involved in four of every five drug-related deaths in Europe, according to a 2008 report from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction.

From the day I started using, I never stopped. Within one week I had gone from snorting heroin to shooting it. Within one month I was addicted and going through all my money. I sold everything of value that I owned and eventually everything that my mother owned. Within one year, I had lost everything.

“I sold my car, lost my job, was kicked out of my mother’s house, was $25,000 in credit card debt, and living on the streets of Camden, New Jersey. I lied, I stole, I cheated.

“I was raped, beaten, mugged, robbed, arrested, homeless, sick and desperate. I knew that nobody could have a lifestyle like that very long and I knew that death was imminent. If anything, death was better than a life as a junkie.” —Alison