Published: Mon, August 20, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Opioid deaths hit record high in 2017

Opioid deaths hit record high in 2017

A recent report from MA indicates the downward trend in drug deaths in that state may continue.

The increase was driven primarily by a continued surge in deaths involving synthetic opioids, a category that includes fentanyl.

The provisional number of deaths is calculated using confirmed reports of death, then adjusting to account for delays in reporting and autopsy results. Because of its heroin-like effects, it is often abused and sold though illegal drug markets. As some investigations can take longer than others, the CDC adjusts its estimate based on the number of deaths still under investigation. Last year, almost 30,000 deaths involved these drugs - an increase of more than 9,000 over 2016.

The CDC estimates around 72,000 people fatally overdosed. Now, deaths are more widespread and the toll differs by state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report Wednesday that indicated more than 72,000 Americans died of a drug overdose past year, a number greater than the CDC has noted at any time in history.

That represents a rise of 6.6 percent nationwide from 2016 and a death toll higher than any other cause of non-disease death in the US, including HIV, homicides, or vehicle crashes.

The lag time between death and when the data are available for analysis is longer for drug overdose deaths compared with other causes of death, the CDC says.

Though the number of deaths rose in most states a year ago, the number of fatal drug overdoses declined in 14 states, including Rhode Island (minus 7 percent), Vermont (minus 6 percent) and MA (minus 1 percent).

"It is important to note that this data encompasses both intentional and accidental overdoses", added Ebied, who was not involved in the CDC report.

The opioid epidemic began in the late 1990s.

Deaths involving anti-anxiety medications Benzodiazepine mixed with opioids also increased. Carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times stronger than morphine. "Although the Drug Enforcement Administration has a tight control of these controlled substances, accessibility continues to occur".

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