Fatal drug overdoses in U.S. on the rise, CDC says

The rate of fatal drug overdoses more than doubled nationwide since 1999, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That number is higher than the rate of death for suicides in the USA, 13.4 deaths per 100,000, or the rate of death from auto accidents, 11.1 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Startling numbers from a new study shows more Americans are dying from drug overdose.

Heroin and other opioids accounted for about half of these deaths, a reflection of the damage wrought by the prescription painkiller epidemic this decade, said Dr. Edwin Salsitz, an addiction medicine specialist. Opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record, according to the CDC, which estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

Adults between the ages of 45 and 54 had the highest rates of overdose deaths in 2015, and the rates are increasing among non-Hispanic white people, almost 3.5 times the rate in 1999, according to the CDC. In 1999, the percentage of drug overdoses related to heroin use was 8%, but the new 25% statistic more than triples its predecessor.

Over the same period, the percentage of overdose deaths blamed on cocaine rose to 13 percent in 2015 from 11% in 2010, according to the study.

The states hit hardest by overdose deaths are West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio.

The rate at which white people overdosed fatally, the study found, had more than tripled since 1999.

The National Center for Health Statistics said Friday the massive increase in heroin and general opioid abuse in the US since 2010 is driven by lower drug prices and ever higher potency.

The national death toll is highest among non-Hispanic whites, with overdoses causing 21.1 deaths per 100,000 people.

24, found that drug overdose deaths have risen among whites at a rate of about 7 percent each year, compared with 2 percent a year for blacks and Hispanics.

To try to stop overdose deaths, access has been increased to naloxone (Narcan), a drug used to reverse an opioid overdose, Vuolo said. "There's a really good chance the increase involving heroin has to be involved with fentanyl".

Slovis said some illicit synthetic opioids can be 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin.

"When you use an elephant tranquilizer on a human, bad things are going to happen", Slovis said, explaining EMS personnel had to double the amount of Narcan they bring with them in the field.