Heroin is derived from a natural opiate, morphine, and was originally developed to be a cure for morphine addiction. As a schedule I drug with no medical application, heroin is a street drug that may often be combined with other drugs, diluted with flour or cornstarch, or contaminated with other dangerous chemicals. Heroin’s severe withdrawal symptoms are part of what makes it highly addictive; users may continue to seek out the drug simply in order to avoid painful withdrawal.
Heroin abuse rose slightly in 2016 and 2017 in comparison to the 15 years prior. As of 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2017 Summary found that nearly half a million people in the US are current heroin users. A fraction of that group is adolescents, with the majority of users (approximately 390,000) being 26 and older.