Drug overdose deaths in U.S. double
According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of people dying from drug overdoses in the U.S. has more than doubled, jumping from about 17,000 in 1999 to roughly 41,000 in 2012.
More specifically, the number of fatal drug overdoses jumped from 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 13.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 2012. West Virginia had the highest death rate at 32 people per 100,000. Other states close behind included New Mexico (24.7), Utah (23.1), and Nevada (21).
One of the most staggering statistics from the report is that heroin-related deaths almost tripled in that time period, with around 6,000 deaths. One positive note is that the number of deaths due to painkiller overdoses actually dropped 5 percent from 2011 to 2012,
Some experts have suggested that the increase in drug overdoses is tied to the easy accessibility to prescription drugs and the tendency of some doctors to overprescribe them. Also, because prescription monitoring is not mandatory in some states, it's not difficult for patients to "doctor shop" and get painkillers from multiple doctors. Public health experts say that they've seen an increase in heroin use by people who first became addicted to opioid painkillers.