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Rate of fatal drug overdoses doubles since 1999, CDC finds

Rate of fatal drug overdoses doubles since 1999, CDC finds

Rate of fatal drug overdoses doubles since 1999, CDC finds

Fatal overdoses from heroin quadrupled over the last five years according to newly released federal data showing the substance accounts for a quarter of all drug deaths.

Adults between 45 and 54 years old had the highest death rate from drug overdoses at 30 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015. As a result, heroin surpassed gun homicides to become the most lethal killer in 2015. While overdose death rates increased for all age groups, the greatest increase was in adults aged 55-64.

Heroin and opioid painkillers - including prescription ones - have a problematic relationship: Research suggests that since they act similarly in the brain (opioid painkillers are often referred to by some doctors as "heroin lite"), taking one (even "as directed") can increase one's susceptibility to becoming hooked on the other. "The increased availability of heroin, its relatively low price (compared to prescription opioids), and high purity appear to be major drivers of the upward trend in heroin use, overdoses, and deaths".

Heroin caused more overdoses than any other drug, according to USA Today.

In 2010, 29% of fatal overdoses involved so-called "natural" and "semisynthetic" opioids (morphine, oxycodone), while only about 12% involved methadone, a "synthetic" opioid.

Opioids killed more than 33,000 Americans in 2015, more than any year on record, the CDC said, which estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

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Deaths from opioid overdoses just jumped again. Heroin's increase was met with decreases in drug deaths including oxycodone and methadone. In 1999, the percentage of drug overdoses related to heroin use was 8%, but the new 25% statistic more than triples its predecessor.

Overdoses outpaced suicides and auto crashes as a cause of death in 2015, the report said, according to ABC News.

Researchers acknowledged that several factors could affect death rate measurement, including but not limited to the fact that drug overdose deaths can involve multiple drugs.

Drug overdose deaths have almost tripled in the United States since 1999, with whites and middle-aged Americans bearing much of the brunt, a new government report shows.

"You are 40 times more likely to use heroin if you stated with opioid painkillers", Hamburg said. To make matters worse, drug dealers started cutting heroin with even cheaper and more potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl, further increasing the risk of overdose and death.

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