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There were a record number of overdose deaths from opioids and heroin in the United States in 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
A total of 47,055 people died from drug overdoses in the United States from 2000 to 2014, according to new research by the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
The data, highlighted in the CDC's latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, says 61% of all drug overdose deaths in 2014 involved some type of opioid.
In addition to finding that the rate of opioid overdoses has tripled since 2000, researchers said rates of opioid overdose deaths increased 14% from 2013 to 2014 — from 7.9 per 100,000 people to 9.0 per 100,000 people.
“The sharp increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, other than methadone, in 2014 coincided with law enforcement reports of increased availability of illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a synthetic opioid,” according to researchers. “However, illicitly manufactured fentanyl cannot be distinguished from prescription fentanyl in death certificate data. These findings indicate that the opioid overdose epidemic is worsening.”
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement that the increasing number of opioid overdose deaths is “alarming.”
“To curb these trends and save lives, we must help prevent addiction and provide support and treatment to those who suffer from opioid use disorders,” Dr. Frieden said. “This report also shows how important it is that law enforcement intensify efforts to reduce the availability of heroin, illegal fentanyl, and other illegal opioids.”
Legislation that would grant more than half a billion dollars in emergency funds to federal programs tackling opioid and heroin abuse has been introduced by a U.S. senator.