Facts and Statistics About Heroin

We will give you the support and guidance you need to get started on the road of long-term recovery.

Get Help with Addiction Treatment

When discussing some of the most addictive substances in our world today, one that is consistently mentioned in the discussion is heroin. With its widespread use and potentially fatal side effects, heroin continues to maintain its infamous reputation in news cycles and among users world wide. Despite its global popularity, many are unaware of many of the facts and statistics that surround this illicit substance. Throughout this article you will begin to understand more about what heroin is, where it comes from, and, ultimately, how it affects our communities today.

If you or someone you know finds themselves in the midst of a battle with an addictive substance like heroin, there is hope. At Guardian Recovery, our team of trained addiction professionals understand the life controlling power that these substances can have, but also the freedom that is available in a lifestyle of recovery. Call today to speak with an admissions professional. One of the best decisions for you or a loved one may simply be one phone call away.

Start Healing Today!

Choose recovery and take control of your life, it’s the path to a brighter future filled with health, happiness, and fulfillment.

Heroin Fast Facts

Below are some facts about heroin as well as statistics that can equip you with knowledge and insight into this dangerous substance.

Drug Classification of Heroin

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies drugs (1) into various categories known as “schedules”. These classifications are made based on a number of factors including a substance’s addictive qualities as well as the potential medical uses that a substance may have. Heroin is classified by the DEA as a Schedule I drug. This classification comes as a result of heroin being both highly addictive along with having no recognized medical usage.

The Origin of Heroin & How It’s Produced

Heroin is derived from opium (2) which is a natural substance that comes from the ripened seed of the poppy plant typically grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. After harvesting, the opium is converted into morphine through a chemical cooking process. Once this process is completed the substance is either used as morphine or undergoes another, slightly more advanced, chemical process to further distill the compound into usable heroin. Depending on the way this process is done, this will render heroin into a state that can be smoked, snorted, or injected.

Known Street Names

Like many other illegal drugs, heroin is often referred to by various code names in order to avoid detection from law enforcement. Many of these names rise and fall in popularity depending on their detection from legal entities. These street names (3) are usually derived from descriptions or abbreviations of heroin itself. They include Brown sugar, China White, dope, or smack.

What Heroin Looks Like

Depending on the chemicals used and the strength of the opium, heroin can either take on the form of a white or brown powdery substance or a dark sticky substance known as “black tar” heroin.

How Heroin Is Used

The way that a substance enters a person’s bloodstream is known as the route of administration. Heroin has three common routes of administration. The first is smoking in which the heroin is inhaled, in smoke form, to the lungs traveling up to the heart and being dispersed throughout the body. The second is snorting. In this method, heroin is sniffed into the nasal cavity where the blood vessels are closer to the skin’s surface and have the ability to soak the substance directly into the bloodstream. The third common route of administration is injection. This route allows for the maximum amount of the substance to directly enter into the bloodstream causing the person using the feel an instant rush.

Complimentary Insurance Check
Find Out Today!

"*" indicates required fields


Risks & Dangers of Heroin Use

The risks involved in heroin use are well documented by the number of overdoses and deaths (4) caused each year. Many times, the danger lies with both the substance’s effects on the body as well as the potential for foreign substances to be introduced alongside the heroin itself. Illegal drug manufacturers call this process “cutting.” This is where additional, often cheaper, substances are introduced into the heroin in order to maximize profits or increase potency. With heroin classified as an illegal substance, there are no regulations on what it can be manufactured with meaning that the person using the substance will be unaware of what it is cut with. Often used household additives include cornstarch or flour but can also include harmful substances including fentanyl.

Adverse Side Effects on The Body

Heroin, along with its euphoric high, brings about a multitude of unwanted side effects. Short term effects (5) of heroin use can include nausea, itchy skin, and slowed heart rate and breathing potentially to the point of a medical emergency. Long term effects (6) of heroin use include restructuring and decline of brain function and physical dependence leading to withdrawal symptoms if heroin use is stopped.

Legal Status in the U.S.

Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States. This means that it has both a high potential for abuse as well as no medical uses. With this classification, it is illegal to use or possess in all of its forms.

Heroin Use & Overdose Statistics

In the year 2020 it was documented by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (4) that over 13,000 deaths in the U.S. involved heroin. This means that 4 out of every 100,000 Americans died from a heroin related overdose. This is a 7% increase from 2019 and nearly 7 times as many deaths as 1999.

Our Locations 

Our Facilities & Teams Transform Lives

Changing lives by providing comprehensive support and rehabilitation, empowering individuals to overcome addiction and regain control of their health and well-being.

Treatment Options For Heroin Abuse & Addiction

Due to its highly addictive nature, heroin treatment is often required for many who begin using it casually. Participation in residential or outpatient treatment is common. In these programs, participants will have the opportunity to participate in group therapy as well as 1 on 1 meetings with their primary clinician to discuss issues and goals specifically related to them.

Taking the first step in reaching out for help with a substance abuse issue can be a difficult one. At Guardian Recovery, our trained admissions staff understand the courage that this takes. For this reason, a simple phone call is all you will need to start your journey of recovery. Our admissions team will be able to provide you with the necessary information to progress your path to freedom. We are even able to provide you with a free, no obligation insurance check to ensure that you receive the highest quality of treatment available. Call today and take the first step to freedom.


Do I have an Addiction issue?

Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
  2. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
  3. https://www.nihlibrary.nih.gov/resources/subject-guides/opioids/street-commercial-names
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/deaths/heroin/index.html
  5. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-immediate-short-term-effects-heroin-use
  6. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-long-term-effects-heroin-use

Get Local Help

Helpful, Recovery

Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

More About Author
Guardian Recovery

Check Insurance Coverage

Find out today what options are available to you. Fill out the form below.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Live a BRIGHTER Future Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Live a BRIGHTER Future Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Contact Alumni Services Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing after coming to one of our facilities.

Your Name

Stay in touch ALUMNI

Join our alumni newsletter to get up to date information on events, news, and more.


Personalize Your Experience

Allow us to guide you to the information your looking for.

Begin HEALING Today

Check Insurance Coverage

Find out today what options are available to you. Fill out the form below.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

24/7 Help: (888) 693-1872