Deadly drug overdoses more than doubled since 1999

Francis Osborne
February 25, 2017

Heroin-related deaths in the United States 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.

The CDC report also shows that the number of deadly heroin overdoses in the United States more than quadrupled from 2010 to 2015.

The overdose death rate for non-Hispanic black persons in 2015 was 12.2 deaths per 100,000, an increase from 7.5 in 1999, while the rate for Hispanic persons went up from 5.4 to 7.7 over that time period.

New figures by the USA government show the rate of fatal drug overdoses in the United States more than doubled since 1999, as authorities in several parts of the country grapple with America's continuing opioid epidemic. Additionally, researchers discovered the rate of fatal drug overdoses has doubled since 1999. In 2015, white overdose death rates also almost tripled those of Hispanics and almost double African-Americans.

To try to stop overdose deaths, access has been increased to naloxone (Narcan), a drug used to reverse an opioid overdose, Vuolo said.

Overdose death rates increased for all age groups in the last 15 years, with deaths of those aged 55-64 making up the greatest percentage increase (4.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 21.8 in 2015). For males, the rate rose from 8.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 20.8 in 2015, an average spike of 5% a year.

Four states - West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and OH - lead the nation with the highest overdose death rates, the CDC said.

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The National Center for Health Statistics said Friday the massive increase in heroin and general opioid abuse in the US since 2010 is driven by lower drug prices and ever higher potency.

Some 5000,000 Americans died from 2000 to 2015 as a result of the opioid epidemic, the CDC says.

Death from overdosing on prescription painkillers like oxycodone actually fell over the period of the study, dropping from 29 percent of all overdose deaths in 2010 to 24 percent in 2015. The study found the rate at which men overdosed was "significantly higher" than women.

Heroin caused more overdoses than any other drug, according to USA Today.

"It's that it's not just heroin anymore between the fentanyl [and] of the synthetic variants including carfentanil" an elephant tranquilizer, said Slovis.

"When you use an elephant tranquilizer on a human, bad things are going to happen", Slovis said, according to ABC.

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