Published: Sun, February 26, 2017
Medical | By Benjamin Edwards

Dramatic Increase in Drug Overdoses in the US

Dramatic Increase in Drug Overdoses in the US

In 2015 alone, opioid overdoses killed over 33,000 people, more than any year on record, the CDC says, meaning an estimated 91 Americans die daily from a drug overdose. In 1999, just 6% of all overdoses were related to the drug.

Wakeman said the data highlights the need to focus on "treatment on demand", allowing addicts to access services immediately rather than risking another life-threatening dose of street drugs. In 2015 that was down by 25 percent. And in an alarming 21 states, drug overdose rates were statistically higher than the national average.

The numbers show overdose deaths afflict middle-aged adults and white people the most.

Over the same period, the percentage of overdose deaths blamed on cocaine rose to 13 percent in 2015 from 11% in 2010, according to the study. Still, the group with the highest overall rates of fatal overdose was slightly younger - adults aged 45-54. Additionally, the researchers also found that overdose deaths from synthetic opioids, like fentanyl and tramadol, also increased, more than doubling from 8.0 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2015.

Generation X and baby boomer had the biggest jump in deaths from drug overdoses. The majority of the deaths are attributed to opioids - heroin and prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin. However, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Brandeis University's Opioid Policy Research Center, said that switching is only part of the story.

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The US Drug Enforcement Agency, tasked with monitoring and enforcing the country's federal laws on drugs, says heroin seizures increased.

Arizona also has implemented similar regulations to try to diminish the problem, as prescriptions are now only valid for up to seven days in that state.

Fentanyl and Carfentanil, which was created to be an elephant tranquilizer, has led in some instances to EMS personnel running out of the opioid antidote Narcan while treating a single patient, he said.

When Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act previous year, it also dedicated $1 billion toward fighting the epidemic, including expanding buprenorphine treatment, a medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependency.

However, according to data published by the journal Addiction, Buprenorphine is not working efficiently on defeating opioid dependency. However, buprenorphine can also be prescribed to deal with chronic pain, and the study wasn't able to determine which users were trying to treat their dependency versus to treat pain.

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