Opioid Overdose Deaths on the Rise, According to New Study

by | Dec 6, 2017 | Health Featured

Opioid overdose deaths are on the rise, according to a new report from US News.  A new study in the United States finds that the death rate among people hospitalized by opioid use has quadrupled.

Studies show that more people are being sent to the hospital for an overdose than for treatment for their addiction.

The study compared death statistics for opioid users that were hospitalized. The study found that 2% of people hospitalized for opioid use died in 2014 compared to just 0.4% in 2000. Dr. Zirui Song, an assistance professor at Harvard Medical School, claims the number of people going to the hospital for overdoses has increased significantly, even though people seeking treatment for addiction at hospitals has gone down.

Drug overdoses have taken over as the main reason for opioid-driven hospitalization. At the turn of the century, hospitalization was primarily for treatment of dependence and abuse.

“You can see that primary diagnoses due to dependence and abuse gradually goes down, while primary diagnoses of opioid and heroin poisoning steadily goes up,” claims Song. Ankin Law Office LLC, wrote a post on their Facebook page, claiming opioid impairment is driving traffic fatalities.

CBS verifies these claims with the publication noting that opioid prescriptions have risen from 76 million in 1991 to almost 300 million in 2014. The rise in prescriptions will directly correlate to a rise in opioid-related crashes.

These prescription drugs are known to impair driving skills, with the following side effects noted: slow reaction time, impaired thinking and drowsiness.

Researchers found that out of 37,000 drivers involved in accidents, a staggering 24% had drugs in their system at the time of the accident. Three percent of those included in the study had prescription drugs in their system at the time of the accident. Women were more likely to have prescription narcotics in their system at the time of an accident (4%) versus men (3%).

Middle-aged, white, low-income individuals are more likely to be admitted for a heroin overdose, according to Song. Opioid overdoses claim 91 lives per day in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that there are 64,000 overdose deaths annually. Synthetic opioids account for 20,000 deaths and heroin accounts for 15,000 deaths.

Misuse of prescribed opioids are to blame for the rise in opioid use in the country, according to Song.

Song notes that fentanyl and heroin present a much higher risk of overdose than other opioid pills. Fentanyl is known to be the strongest opioid with a potency that is 50 – 100 times higher than heroin. Users often don’t know that when they purchase heroin on the street, they are given heroin that has been laced with fentanyl to make it stronger.

Drug dealers and suppliers will cut fentanyl into heroin or other pain pills without the user ever knowing the potency of the drug they’re receiving.

The study notes that more people are ending up in the hospital because their normal opioid of choice has been adulterated to include fentanyl. The study notes that the use of opioids is more dangerous than ever before, with more people using the product than ever before.

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