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ALERT: Deaths from Synthetic Opioid Overdose Increased by Nearly 200 Percent

Dec 19, 2016 03:54 AM EST
Opioid Addiction
The rate of death due to drug overdose in the country have nearly tripled in just 15 years.
(Photo : Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that deaths caused by drug overdose have surged by nearly 200 percent in some states, with large percentage of the deaths caused by synthetic opioids.

According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of CDC, the rate of drug overdose in the United States increased in 30 states and Washington D.C., while the rate of overdose deaths in 19 states remained stables. The drug overdose death rate has significantly increased from12.3 per 100,000 population in 2010 to 16.3 in 2015.

"One of the most heartbreaking problems I've faced as CDC director is our nation's opioid crisis," wrote CDC Director Thomas Friedin M.D. in an article from Fox News. "Lives, families, and communities continue to be devastated by this complex and evolving epidemic."

New Hampshire, together with Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia, saw the largest absolute rate change in deaths from synthetic opioids other than methadone, with New Hampshire experiencing a 191 percent increase.

New York, Connecticut and Illinois also saw more than 100 percent increased rates of drug overdose, with 135.7 percent, 125.9 percent and 120 percent, respectively. The largest absolute rate changes in heroin deaths occurred in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio and West Virginia, while the largest percentage increases in rates occurred in South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Overall, drug overdose accounted for 52,404 deaths in the U.S. in 2015, up from 47,055 in 2014. Among the drug overdose deaths in 2015, about 63.1 percent, or 33,091 deaths, involved an opioid, up from 60.9 percent in 2014.

The Drug Enforcement Agency referred to prescription drugs, heroin and fentanyl as the most significant drug-related threat in the U.S. in their November 2016 report. Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and had recently gained popularity after taking the life of pop star Prince earlier this year.

CDC noted that the ongoing epidemic of opioid deaths requires intense attention and actions. Friedin urges healthcare providers to adhere to CDC's Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain as an excellent starting point to prevent further development of opioid use disorder. Availability and easy access to opioid use disorder therapy could also help ease the current opioid epidemic.

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