Dying to Get High: Half of 2014 U.S. Drug Deaths Caused By Opiates

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It’s well-documented that heroin and prescription painkiller abuse are two of the biggest drug problems in the U.S., but a new report from the Drug Enforcement Administration highlights just how serious the problem is.

Shocking Death Rate

Chuck Rosenberg, the DEA’s acting administrator, confirmed that nearly 70 percent of the 46,000 drug overdoses reported in 2013 came from heroin or prescription drugs. About half of all overdoses that year (23,000) came from prescription drugs and another 8,000 were caused by heroin

Heroin use has increased across the country by 50 percent between 2013 and 2014 alone, while seizures of the drug doubled between 2010 and 2014. The DEA’s 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment found that heroin is most popular among drug users in the Northeast and Midwest.

Meanwhile, prescription opioids were responsible for roughly 16,000 of the 23,000 overdose deaths that came from prescription drugs in 2013. Benzos were responsible for the other 7,000 deaths.

The Hold of Opiates

Findings released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also highlighted why prescription opioid abuse remains arguably the biggest drug problem in the U.S.

These powerful opioids, which were originally designed to alleviate or at least lessen the effects of chronic pain, are now officially responsible for an astounding 44 overdose deaths each day.

Although those between ages 25 to 54 comprised the majority of the deaths between 1999 and 2013, there was also a seven-fold increase in the number of people ages 54 to 64 who died from opioid overdoses.

To put these alarming statistics into perspective, more people use prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin, MDMA and methamphetamine combined. And because the DEA report shows that more than half of these users are getting their pills for free from family and friends, it’s a health hazard that shows no sign of slowing down.

In addition, opioids were responsible a large percentage of all emergency room visits in 2013. Just over 1.4 million of the 2.5 million ER visits that year were due to prescription drugs, with 400,000 of them being attributed to opioids. The remainder of the prescription drug-related ER visits were from anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia medications.

Before it’s too Late…

If someone you know is abusing prescription drugs, encourage them to talk with their doctor about the over-the-counter or all-natural alternatives to manage their condition. But if the problem has become too severe, or they’re using heroin regularly in any moment, treatment at an inpatient rehab center with a detox unit is the only solution to help them kick their drug use.

Talk to Us:   Have something to share? Curious what others are saying about prescription drug abuse? Head to the DrugAbuse.com Community Forum and sound off.

Image Source: iStock

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