1 in 4 fatal drug overdoses linked to heroin in 2015 — CDC

CBS Evening News

The rate of fatal drug overdoses more than doubled nationwide since 1999, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2010, there were 3,036 overdose fatalities related to heroin in the U.S. In 2015, that number increased more than fourfold to 12,989 heroin-related overdose deaths, according to aReuters report citing data from the NCHS.

Rates of fatal drug overdoses have dramatically increased since 1999, rising from 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people to 16.3 deaths per 100,000 in 2015, according to the CDC report.

West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and OH had the highest drug overdose death rates. And in an alarming 21 states, drug overdose rates were statistically higher than the national average. In 2010, 8 percent of drug overdose deaths involved heroin, a share that jumped to 25 percent in 2015, the study found.

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These numbers are far higher than suicide rates, which stand at 13.4 per 100,000 people, or the rate of auto accident deaths, which is 11.1 per 100,000. While opioid abuse runs rampant, it's a nonprescription narcotic-heroin-that remains a top killer in the U.S.

"If addicts can't access prescription drugs, they turn to heroin and fentanyl and someone using those drugs has no idea what they are getting when they buy it, so the likelihood of an overdose increases dramatically", she said.

The new report did not investigate the cause of the shifts, but the data reflect a pattern seen by public health officials in recent years.

The states with the highest rates were: West Virginia, with 41.5 per 100,000; New Hampshire, with 34.3; and Kentucky and OH each with 29.9.

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When compared to the national total of drug deaths in the United States, heroin related overdoses comprise almost a quarter of all drug fatalities.

Overdoses increased in all age groups. Since 2005, rates have been highest for adults aged 45-54. Several opioid and heroin crisis have been observed by US authorities leading to such horrifying statistics. Marijuana has been wrongly linked to the opioid epidemic Sean Spicer, the Trump administration's press secretary said the other day, "There's a big difference between that (medical marijuana) and recreational marijuana".

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

The Drug Enforcement Administration has listed a number of fentanyl variations or analogues as schedule I, drugs that have "no now accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse".

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