Opioid-related fatalities outnumbered gun-related deaths by nearly a margin of 3 to 1, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was analyzed by the Office on National Drug Control Policy.
The current opioid and heroin crisis in the U.S. “continues to devastate communities and families across the country,” largely because people don’t get necessary treatment, Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement released on Thursday.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement that misuse of opioids and the use of heroin and illegally produced fentanyl continues to get worse.
To put it in context, gun deaths outnumbered fatal heroin overdoses by 5 to 1 as recently as 2007. Deaths from synthetic opioid overdoses like fentanyl rose 73 percent in 2015, and deaths related to heroin rose 23 percent. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, opioid-related overdose deaths increased from 28,647 in 2014 to 33,091 in 2015, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
The CDC’s data comes on the heels of the Senate passing the 21st Century Cures Act on Wednesday. The bill earmarks $1 billion in funding for opioid addiction treatment and prevention programs.
A recent government study stated that abuse of prescription opioid painkillers cost the economy $78.5 billion in 2013. More than a third of the cost was associated with health care and substance abuse treatment costs, and a quarter of the cost was attributed to the public sector in health care, substance abuse treatment and criminal justice.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) stated earlier this year that drug overdoses became the leading cause of deaths in the U.S. in 2015, which is largely being driven by opioid abuse.
According to ASAM’s “Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures,” there were 20,101 deaths related to prescription drug overdoses and 12,990 deaths related to heroin overdoses last year. The report focused on the impact on certain demographics including adolescents and women.
Approximately 21,000 adolescents used heroin in the past year, and the rate of opioid prescriptions for adolescents was almost double from… (continue reading)