America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse


Drug Awareness


America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse

Testimony to Congress May 14, 2014
presented by Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control
Good Morning, Madam Chair and members of the Caucus.  Thank you for inviting the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to participate in this important hearing and contribute what I believe will be useful insights into the growing and intertwined problems of prescription pain relievers and heroin abuse in this country. 


The abuse of and addiction to opioids such as heroin, morphine, and prescription pain relievers is a serious global problem that affects the health, social, and economic welfare of all societies.  It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide,[1] with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 and an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin.[2]   The consequences of this abuse have been devastating and are on the rise.  For example, the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers has soared in the United States, more than quadrupling since 1999.  There is also growing evidence to suggest a relationship between increased non-medical use of opioid analgesics and heroin abuse in the United States.[3]    

For rest of testimony see link:…