Heroin overdose deaths nearly quadruple
A new report from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that deaths from heroin overdose in the US have increased more dramatically in the last few years they did over the entire previous decade. The steepest rise occurred between 2010 and 2013, when the rate of death from heroin overdose increased 37 percent, compared with just a 6 percent increase over the decade before.
The researchers also saw a change in the demographics of overdose victims. In 2000, the group with the highest rate of heroin overdose deaths was black adults ages 45 to 64, with a rate of 2 deaths per 100,000 yearly. In contrast, in 2013, the group with the highest death rate was white adults ages 18 to 44, with a rate of 7 deaths per 100,000. Regionally, the biggest rise was seen in the Midwest where the heroin death rate rose 11-fold between 2000 and 2013.
Doctors believe that the increase in prescription pain medication use and abuse has been a contributing factor. Many people who become addicted to prescription pain medications transition to heroin because it’s cheaper and gives people a faster high. Researchers also believe that the stigma around injecting heroin has changed as its use had become more common.
The researchers recommended an increase in the number of people trained to administer naloxone (brand name Narcan), which is a drug that can treat people who have overdosed on heroin, and to increase funding for mental and substance abuse clinics.