U.S. drug overdose deaths reach a new record high

Opioid Overdoses Have Been Higher Than Thought: Study

Across the state, authorities have taken steps to stop overdose death from opioids, by changing how prescription pain medications are distributed to patients as well as offering treatment options for those addicted to illegal drugs such as heroin.

The drug overdose death rate reached 19.9 cases for every 100,000 people during the late summer of 2016, compared with 16.7 cases per 100,000 the year before, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) stated in its quarterly mortality report. It found mortality rates that were 24 percent higher for opioid overdoses and 22 percent higher for heroin overdoses than the numbers that had previously been reported.

Ruhm noted that states like Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire specified the culprit drug on death certificates 99 percent of the time, but states like Pennsylvania, Indiana, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama only reported that about half of the time. States like Vermont, Virginia, and South Dakota identified the specific drug more than 95% of the time.

His results claim the national rate of fatal opioid overdoses spiked in 2014 from 9 for every 100,000 people to 11.2, while the rate of fatal heroin overdoses jumped from 3.3 to 4 per every 100,000 people.

Perhaps more alarming, a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine on Monday suggests that government estimates are failing to capture the full extent of the opioid crisis. "This is particularly important when we have scarce funds to allocate and so would want to target them at the hardest hit areas".

Armed with that info, Ruhm estimated how many of those deaths could be blamed on heroin and how many on opioids.


The Keystone state was ranked 32nd by the CDC for opioid deaths for 2014, with 8.5 per 100,000.

The projected leading primary cause of unnatural deaths in the Commonwealth this year continue to be drug overdoses - hundreds more than both gun and automobile-related deaths. Prescription or synthetic opioid pain relievers - like Percocet, OxyContin and fentanyl - were implicated in more than two-thirds of opioid-related overdose deaths, the agency said. The specific drug that caused an overdose fatality was not identified for almost 20 percent of fatal overdoses in 2014, and 25.4 percent in 2008.

Trump instead stressed the need for improved law enforcement efforts to help combat the epidemic.

OH also has the nation's highest rate of fatal heroin overdoses with 10.4 per 100,000. These corrections were then applied on a state-by-state basis to produce opioid- and heroin-specific death rates. But even there Ruhm concluded the death rate for opioids should have been 30.3 per 100,000 in 2014 instead of 29.9.

"Fatal overdose rates are higher for males than females, for whites than blacks or other non-whites", Ruhm said.

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