Many Opioid Overdose Deaths Are Unattributed, Study Finds
New evidence has emerged in the fight against America’s growing opioid crisis. Statistics may now prove that the scope of overdoses is even worse than currently documented by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
NIDA estimated that nearly 35,000 individuals died from opioid overdoses in 2015 alone. Following reports from the past two years have indicated that the trend of overdoses has skyrocketed.
According to Dr. Christopher Ruhm, who performed a study with the University of Virginia, the overdose rates may be up to 24 percent higher than originally professed. Ruhm found this data through a careful analysis of death certificates, wherein the specific drug was not listed in the cause of death.
In cases where the opioids or heroin were the cause of death—but were not listed as such—overdose statistics were affected. Ruhm mentions that this phenomenon occurred in states that have been particularly devastated by the opioid epidemic, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Alabama.
A CBS News headline from August 1 echoes Ruhm’s findings—more than 1 in 3 Americans were prescribed opioids in 2015, according to results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Further still, nearly 1.9 million Americans admit to opioid addiction.
With so many Americans dying from opioid overdoses on a daily basis, it is clear that action must be taken. Ruhm’s and others’ research support the notion that a large number of deaths are going unattributed, and prevention is more vital than ever before.