Today’s report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that the number of heroin overdoses quadrupled from 2010 to 2015.
These latest statistics offer further insight into the addiction epidemic that continues to affect all areas of the nation. Headlines regarding the opioid crisis, among other crises of illicit substance use, emerge on a daily basis. Countless overdoses have set the stage for a frightening phase of this epidemic—one that is swiftly building, with the addition of “designer” drug compounds that are deadlier than ever before.
The new research from the CDC found that 12,989 deaths in 2015 were related to heroin. In 2010, that number was 3,036. Today, 25 percent of all drug overdoses in the US are attributed to heroin use.
The study also revealed statistics regarding age demographics, and notably recognized that the highest increase in overdose deaths occurred in the 55-64-year age group. While all age groups have been severely affected by the mounting crisis of overdoses, this group experienced the highest increase, with 30 deaths per 100,000 overdoses.
While a majority of states also experienced increased levels of overdoses, the states with the highest levels included West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio.
In Cincinnati, synthetic opioid carfentanil—50 times stronger than heroin—made its way onto the scene last fall. In a profile by the New York Times, the substance is described as being powerful enough to kill in a dose “smaller than a snowflake.”
Carfentanil was responsible for 200 overdoses in a 2-week period in the Cincinnati area.
The super-potent opioid is now also being masqueraded by drug dealers as cocaine, leading to larger amounts of unexpected overdoses. This phenomenon was documented by the American Journal of Public Health.
With heroin and synthetic opioid overdoses at an all-time high, public health is of the utmost concern. It is difficult to imagine the severity of overdose increases in the past five years, and is a reality that must be confronted with compassion, proper treatment, and education of risk.
Find the CDC’s entire report here.