Drug OD deaths almost tripled since 1999, CDC says

Chart showing the rise of heroin and fentanyl in opioid drug overdose deaths in the US
Sarah Frostenson
Author

25 February, 2017

And despite persistent concerns over teens and young adults abusing drugs, middle-aged adults were the most likely to suffer a fatal overdose, according to the report.

In 2010, there were 3,036 overdose fatalities related to heroin in the U.S. In 2015, that number increased more than fourfold to 12,989 heroin-related overdose deaths, according to aReuters report citing data from the NCHS.

Synthetic opioids, excluding methadone a type of heroin substitute given to addicts receiving treatment, also rose sharply from 7.8 percent of all national drug deaths in 2010, to 18.3 percent by 2015.

Heroin-related deaths in the USA skyrocketed in the span of five years, amounting to a quarter of all overdose deaths by 2015, according to new federal data, presenting another grim snapshot of America's opioid epidemic.

Authors of the study note in 2010 only eight percent of all fatal drug overdoses stemmed from heroin.

Opioids killed more than 33,000 Americans in 2015, more than any year on record, the CDC said, which estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. The new report "highlights an ongoing problem in that area", she told Live Science.

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Friday's study also found the share of drug overdose deaths from prescription opioids dropped from 29 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2015.

In 2015, the highest rate of drug overdose deaths was among people ages 45 to 54, with a rate of 30 deaths per 100,000 people.

Stay updated on this and other stories by downloading the FREE 11Alive News app now in the iTunes store or on Google Play. "There's a really good chance the increase involving heroin has to be involved with fentanyl". Generally, overdoses of opioid painkillers continued to be a leading killer, but heroin and synthetic opioids, such as deadly fentanyl, are behind an increasing number of deaths.

The center's research was based on death certificate data and did not examine the underlying causes. In Wisconsin, policy makers launched an opioid task force and facilitated lower prices on an anti-overdose drug.

The national death toll is highest among non-Hispanic whites, with overdoses causing 21.1 deaths per 100,000 people. "This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis", a 2015 study by researchers at Princeton University concluded.

Slovis said some illicit synthetic opioids can be 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin.


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