Fifty years ago researchers reported that the average first-time heroin user is a 16-year-old of color, but now a study says that a typical user who has sought treatment is more likely a 23-year-old white woman from the suburbs.
According to The Verge, the study was published in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers have concluded that this represents a shift in the demographics of users seeking out treatment over the past few decades.
The study says that white men and women have turned to prescription pills as their drug of choice, but heroin eventually becomes more attractive to them, as it is much cheaper. According to lead study author, neuropharmacologist Theodore Cicero of Washington University, heroin use in women has rose from 20 percent in the 50s to around 52 percent of heroin users.
According to NBC, Cicero and his team took a look at data from an ongoing study that involved 2,800 heroin addicts that entered substance abuse treatment programs in centers across America. They also interviewed 54 addicts about their personal experiences, as well as their reasoning for using the drug.
According to Bloomberg, Cicero said that many people use heroin to treat depressive tendencies. He continued to say that better depression and mental health treatments in schools, as well as in communities could curb heroin use.
Cicero said that he is now studying whether there is a correlation between drug abuse and depression.