A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed the alarming statistics about drug abuse in the United States. The report which stated that drug overdose deaths have been increasing exponentially, drew special attention to those overdoses involving opioids. To curb what the CDC is calling a growing “epidemic,” officials of the agency are urging better preventative measures and additional treatment and support for those that become dependent on drugs.
2014 Sees Highest Number of Deaths on Record
According to the CDC report, more people in 2014 died from drug overdoses in the U.S. than any other year on record. Deaths from opioid overdoses drove the numbers up significantly, with a 14-percent increase in 2014 alone. Overdose rates from common prescription opioids went up by nine percent while deaths from heroin overdoses increased at a disturbing 26 percent. The report stated, “Nearly every aspect of the opioid overdose death epidemic worsened in 2014.”
The total number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2014 reached 47,055, equating to 14.7 deaths per every 100,000 people in the country. Opioids made up 61 percent of those deaths, with a total of 28,647 overdoses attributed to those drugs. In addition to prescription opioid and heroin deaths, the CDC saw a rise in overdoses linked to fentanyl, a powerful narcotic typically prescribed to patients in the final stages of cancer.
Overdose Deaths across All Demographics
Overdoses increased in demographics across the board, including men and women, non-Hispanic whites and African Americans, and in adults in nearly every age range. The states that saw the biggest increases were West Virginia, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, and Kentucky.
The CDC attributed the increase in opioid overdoses to more misuse and abuse of these prescription drugs in recent years. The number of prescriptions for these drugs is also up as physicians become more comfortable prescribing medications like OxyContin and Vicodin to treat both acute and chronic pain conditions. Heroin use has also been on the rise, due to the fact that many that become addicted to prescription opioids eventually turn to heroin because it is cheaper and more readily available on the street.
Dangers to Adolescents
The danger of opioid abuse is just as significant for adolescents as it is for adults, the CDC discovered. In 2014, 267,000 adolescents admitted to using prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons. Prescribing rates for these drugs nearly doubled between 1994 and 2007. In addition, many teens say they were exposed to the drug by a friend or relative that gave them the pills for free.
“The opioid epidemic is devastating American families and communities,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden told NBC News last December. “To curb these trends and save lives, we must help prevent addiction and provide support and treatment to those who suffer from opioid use disorders.”
“This report also shows how important it is that law enforcement intensify efforts to reduce the availability of heroin, illegal fentanyl and other illegal opioids,” Frieden added.
At Simple Recovery, we have seen the devastating effects of drug abuse and dependency on individuals and families. We now not only work with people struggling with those dependencies, helping them get the treatment they need, but also provide preventative education and resources through the Simple Recovery Community Education Series. If you are dealing with abuse or addiction, or are in need of preventative care for a loved one, contact Simple Recovery at 888-743-0490.