U.S. Opioid, Heroin Overdoses Tripled in the Last Decade

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U.S. Opioid, Heroin Overdoses Tripled in the Last Decade
U.S. Opioid, Heroin Overdoses Tripled in the Last Decade

HealthDay News — A new report from the CDC says overdoses involving opioid analgesics have tripled in the last 10 years, while heroin deaths have also tripled between 1999 and 2012.

In the latest report, released by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, researchers tracked data from the CDC's National Vital Statistics System. The study was led by Margaret Warner, PhD, of the CDC's Division of Vital Statistics. Her team found that, after adjusting for age, fatal overdoses involving opioid analgesics "more than tripled, from 1.4 per 100,000 in 1999 to 5.1 in 2012." The rates were higher in certain states, with Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and West Virginia hardest hit. In West Virginia, 32 out of every 100,000 residents overdosed on any kind of drug — the highest rate in the nation.

However, the rate of increase for such deaths has slowed nationwide. From 1999 through 2006, there was "an average increase of about 18% each year," the CDC authors write, but that has slowed since 2006. And in the last year of the study, 2011 to 2012, the CDC noted a 5% drop in opioid analgesic deaths, the first such decrease in more than a decade.

The researchers also found that "drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin nearly tripled, from 0.7 deaths per 100,000 in 1999 to 1.9 in 2012." And unlike the trend for opioid analgesics, the upsurge in heroin-related deaths shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, "between 2011 and 2012, the rate of drug-poisoning deaths involving heroin increased 35%," the CDC study authors write.

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