Heroin Overdose Deaths Double, But Drop in Opioid Overdose Deaths

Heroin Overdose Deaths Double, But Drop in Opioid Overdose Deaths
Heroin Overdose Deaths Double, But Drop in Opioid Overdose Deaths

(HealthDay News) — Deaths from heroin overdoses doubled from 2010 to 2012, according to research published in the October 3 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

According to the report, overall, the death rate from heroin overdose in the 28 states that reported complete information to the CDC increased from 1.0 to 2.1 per 100,000 between 2010–2012. During that same time period, the death rate from overdoses of opioid pain relievers (OPRs) dropped slightly from 6.0 per 100,000 to 5.6 per 100,000. Heroin-related deaths have risen in every state studied, the CDC reported. However, the Northeast and South saw the greatest increases. Heroin overdoses rose 211% in the Northeast and 181% in the South from 2010–2012. At the same time, overdoses from heroin increased 62% in the Midwest and 91% in the West.

Deaths from heroin overdose also vary by age, study coauthor Len Paulozzi, MD, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, told HealthDay. For example, deaths have climbed 120% among those 45–54 and about 109% among those 25–34. At the same time, deaths from OPR overdose have declined in these age groups.

"The findings in this report indicate a growing problem with heroin overdoses superimposed on a continuing problem with OPR overdoses," according to the report. "Given the rapid changes in drug overdose epidemiology, timely, drug-specific fatal and nonfatal surveillance data at the local, state, and regional level will be necessary to target prevention efforts."

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