Opioid's deadly grip on the USA continued to tighten in 2015, pushing up death rates across the board, according to new data released Friday by the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The states with the highest age-adjusted intrastate rates of overdose deaths in 2015 were West Virginia (41.5 deaths per 100,000), New Hampshire (34.3), Kentucky (29.9), OH (29.9) and Rhode Island (28.2), while 16 other states also had death rates higher than the national rate of overdose deaths (16.3). While overdose death rates increased for all age groups, the greatest increase was in adults aged 55-64. In 2015, adults aged 45-54 had the highest rate (30.0).
Drug overdose deaths have almost tripled in the United States since 1999, with whites and middle-aged Americans bearing much of the brunt, a new government report shows.
The states hit hardest by overdose deaths are West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio.
In 2015, the percentage of drug overdose deaths involving heroin (25%) was triple the percentage in 1999 (8%). The suicide rate is 13.4 deaths per 100,000 and the rate of deaths from vehicle accidents is 11.1 deaths per 100,000 people. In Wisconsin, policy makers launched an opioid task force and facilitated lower prices on an anti-overdose drug.
But some researchers predict a slowdown in drug overdoses, helped by enhanced prescription drug monitoring by employers and law enforcement agencies.
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Some 5000,000 Americans died from 2000 to 2015 as a result of the opioid epidemic, the CDC says. "Heroin is part of America's larger drug abuse problem".
An alarming number of deaths due to drug overdoses is being highlighted by a recent federal study.
Heroin deaths quadrupled in that time period, going from 3,036 in 2010, an 8 percent share of all overdose-related deaths, to 12,989 in 2015, a 24.3 percent share of all overdose-involved fatalities, the NCHS found.
Dr. Corey Slovis, chairman of department of emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and medical director of the National Fire Department and National Airport, said the current drug epidemic is "the worst that I've ever seen it".
Slovis said some illicit synthetic opioids can be 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. Heroin's increase was met with decreases in drug deaths including oxycodone and methadone. One drug, carfentanil, is used as an elephant tranquilizer.