Heroin, Fentanyl Fuel Overdose-Death Spike

(Spring 2017) New data shows that some states experienced a twofold increase in opioid-overdose mortality within a brief 12-month window. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that drug fatalities due to the potent pain medication fentanyl and other manmade opioids skyrocketed 72% from 2014 to 2015. New York State logged a 135.7% rise in these deaths, the largest increase nationwide. Connecticut and Illinois reported dramatic escalations of 125.9% and 120%, respectively. Ohio also ranks in the top five states when examining the change in fatalities from heroin, synthetic opioids (excluding methadone) and natural/semi-synthetic opioids during this same time frame.


Additional details from the CDC are disturbing as well. Over 33,000 individuals died due to illegal and prescription opioid pain medications in 2015, compared to more than 28,600 deaths in 2014. Fatal heroin overdoses rose 23% from 2014 to 2015, claiming 12,990 lives. In total, opioid overdoses constitute 63% of drug overdose fatalities in 2015. This is an increase of 2% over 2014’s numbers. Deaths due to opioid overdose rose 16% from 2014 to 2015; fatalities related to synthetic opioids and heroin were mainly responsible for the jump. Initiatives to reduce prescription drug misuse/abuse resulted in a modest 4% increase in overdose mortalities on this class of opioids in 2015. However, this still translates into the loss of more than 17,000 lives.


Looking at a broader swath of time, the CDC reported that heroin was most frequently found in lethal overdoses between 2010 and 2014. The United States lost more than 38,000 citizens to drug overdoses in 2010, and this number ballooned to over 47,000 in 2014.


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