Opioid overdose deaths just jumped again

Chart showing that white Americans have disproportionately died from drugs in the last 16 years but that might be changing given spikes in 2014 for black and Hispanic Americans

Adults between the ages of 45 and 54 had the highest rates of overdose deaths in 2015, and the rates are increasing among non-Hispanic white people, almost 3.5 times the rate in 1999, according to the CDC.

Those were the racial groups highlighted in the report.

Four states - West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and OH - lead the nation with the highest overdose death rates, the CDC said. In that time frame, heroin deaths increased from 8 percent to 25 percent.

That number is higher than the rate of death for suicides in the USA, 13.4 deaths per 100,000, or the rate of death from auto accidents, 11.1 deaths per 100,000 residents.

But some researchers predict a slowdown in drug overdoses, helped by enhanced prescription drug monitoring by employers and law enforcement agencies.

Last year, the CDC introduced new guidelines for prescribing opioid painkillers, with an aim of reducing the risk of addiction and overdose tied to these drugs. There are also increases in deaths from cocaine and methamphetamines.

Although the percentage of overdose deaths from heroin is rising, the percentage of deaths from some types of prescription opioids, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, has declined slightly, dropping from 29 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2010 to 24 percent in 2015, the report said.

Drug overdose deaths rose 43 percent in Hispanic persons, 63 percent among blacks, and 240 percent in whites.

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Adults ages 55 to 64 saw the biggest increase in drug overdose deaths over the course of the 16-year study period. The group with the highest rate of deaths were those 45-54.

In 2010, 29% of fatal overdoses involved so-called "natural" and "semisynthetic" opioids (morphine, oxycodone), while only about 12% involved methadone, a "synthetic" opioid.

Pennsylvania's toll of 26.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 people was the sixth highest rate in the nation.

"Heroin is part of America's larger drug abuse problem", said Mr. Hamburg.

This increase occurred despite growing awareness of the opioid epidemic and a rise in funding for opioid addiction treatment, said Mooney, who was not involved in the research.

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 you use an elephant tranquilizer on a human, bad things are going to happen", Slovis said, according to ABC.

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