Drug overdose deaths increased in 2017, according to the study released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In the US, over 72,000 people died of drug overdoses; 64,000 OD deaths occurred in 2016. Although the report features provisional estimates, it shows an increase in overdose deaths by almost 10 percent. In other words, there is a new OD death every 6 minutes in this country.
Causes of Overdose Deaths
Among the major causes of overdose deaths is the continued abuse of synthetic opioids among them Fentanyl. Fentanyl is a fast-acting narcotic similar to morphine. It is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, and since users don’t often know that heroin is often laced with Fentanyl, fatal overdosing occurs.
Those drugs contributed solely to deaths of almost 30,000 people. According to the report, this is an increase by 9,000 as compared to the previous year. Cocaine is another major causative of overdose deaths. According to the report, the number of deaths reported due to abuse of cocaine was significantly high going hand in hand with deaths caused by natural opiates such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, highly addictive and overprescribed painkillers. However, the number of deaths caused by oxycodone and hydrocodone stood at the same level as in the previous year.
However, CDC has put caution that the figures in this report are an early estimate arrived at by looking at all monthly records kept by the agency. The CDC may, however, adjust the figures in the report once some recorded deaths are fully investigated. Clear figures can only be arrived at usually at the end of the following calendar year when the full report is released. These provisional numbers are updated by CDC every month and can be found on the CDC’s website.
Overdose Death Distribution Trend
Although there are some changes in figures involving overdose deaths, there is no change in how those deaths are distributed geographically. Those places are known for high mortality rates such as parts of Appalachia and also New England continued with the trend. The highest overdose death rates were clearly seen in West Virginia where there were 58.7 deaths reported for every 100,000 residents. In with previous years, states in Great Plains recorded the lowest number of deaths. An increase in deaths was witnessed nationwide.
However, some parts or the country recorded a higher number of deaths related to overdose. This was witnessed in a number of states including North Dakota and Wyoming. Some states such as Vermont actually saw a decrease in OD deaths. The same trend was witnessed in Massachusetts which has historically had a high OD death rate.
Changing the Trend
It is unclear what next steps will be necessary to curb this alarming trend. While the Trump administration has declared this epidemic a public health emergency, real progress is only visible in part of the country that is aggressively acting and putting dollars behind proven strategies to help individuals overcome addiction, such as the Vermont Hub and Spoke model.
Though Fentanyl fueled the OD deaths in 2017, many people become addicted through the use of prescribed opioids, moving to illicit drugs because they are often cheaper and more easily accessible. Due to this, many states counties and towns have brought lawsuits against drug manufacturers, and doctors may be more limited in the amount they can prescribe.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, it is imperative to get help immediately. Call Futures of Palm Beach to discuss your options.