The AP (12/21, Stobbe) reported that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Friday found that fatal overdoses from prescription opioids and heroin “surged” in 14 states last year, “pushing the nation to a record count.” Overdose deaths in the US eclipsed 47,000 in 2014, a 7 percent increase from the previous year, the highest amount reported since at least 1970, according to CDC records. The states where rates went up are Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. West Virginia had the highest overdose rate with 35.5 fatalities per 100,000, surpassing the national rate of 15 per 100,000. California had the most total overall deaths last year, with over 4,500. Ohio was second, with more than 2,700.
The Washington Post (12/19, Bernstein) reported that fatal overdoses due to heroin and prescription pain medicines were up 28 percent and 16.3 percent in 2014, respectively. The “10,574 heroin deaths and the 18,893 deaths from prescription opioids were two big contributors to a sharp increase in fatal drug overdoses last year.” Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “The bottom line is the opioid overdose epidemic has not abated and appears to have soared in 2014.” He added, “It’s clear that the opiate epidemic from 2013 to 2014 got worse, not better.”
According to The New York Times (12/18, A16, Kolata, Subscription Publication), “men and women of all races and ethnic groups and nearly all ages were affected by drug overdoses.”
— “REPORT: DRUG OVERDOSE DEATHS SURGED IN 14 STATES LAST YEAR,” Mike Stobbe, Associated Press, December 18, 2015.