Pubdate: Sat, 06 Aug 2016
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2016 The Washington Post Company
Author: Robert L. DuPont


The outstanding article "How's Amanda?" [front page, July 24] was an 
excruciatingly accurate portrayal of the everyday reality of 
countless families overwhelmed by the power of heroin addiction 
coupled with their frustration with the high rate of relapse to 
heroin use after entering treatment.

But the article said the average heroin addict dies after 10 years of 
heroin use. Taking the article's accurate estimate of a total of 
about 1.6 million heroin addicts in the United States and linking it 
to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention count of 
annual heroin overdose deaths, 10,574 in 2014, the risk of overdose 
death for a heroin addict is about 0.6 percent a year. That means 
that over the course of 10 years of heroin addiction, about 6 out of 
100 heroin addicts die of a heroin overdose. This shockingly low 
number explains why so many heroin addicts are oblivious to the risk 
of overdose death: Overdoses kill a very small percentage of their 
heroin-using friends each year.

Robert L. DuPont, Rockville The writer was director of the National 
Institute on Drug Abuse from 1973 to 1978.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom