Doubling of heroin deaths tied to prescription painkillers
A new study has found that prescription painkillers may be over-prescribed and that that is linked to an increase in heroin use and overdose-related deaths.
The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), included mortality data between the years 2010 and 2012 from 28 different states. Using the data, researchers at the CDC was able to determine the relationship between prescription painkillers and fatal heroin overdose rates.
The researchers found that during the two-year period, the death rate from heroin overdoses doubled from 1 to 2.1 deaths per 100,000 people. They also found that the increase in heroin deaths could be tied to years of over-prescription of painkillers. As much as 75 percent of people who started to use heroin had first abused prescription painkillers and later found that heroin was cheaper and easier to get, the report noted.
Researchers said that the study’s findings reveal the need to step up efforts to fight opioid addiction and deaths, including drug screenings and increasing the availability of new drugs that can rapidly halt an overdose.