Deaths Linked to Drug Overdoses Surge in US

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Drug overdose deaths for the 12 months ending January 2017 rose 21%, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Drug overdose deaths climbed to 64,070 from 52,898 in January 2016, according to the CDC. In 22 selected jurisdictions, deaths attributed to drug overdose soared 27% to 26,841, up from 21,061 for the 12-month period ending in January.

Reporting jurisdictions were selected for inclusion based on two measures of data quality:

  • Overall completeness of reporting (greater than 90%)
  • And percentage of records pending investigation (less than 1.2%)

Eighteen of the 22 jurisdictions reported an increase in drug overdose deaths. The biggest increases occurred in Delaware (71%), Maryland (67%), Florida (55%) and New York City (50%).

In terms of actual number of deaths in the 22 jurisdictions, Florida reported 5,167 deaths, followed by Texas with 2,799 and Illinois at 2,518.

Synthetic opioid abuse has become the scourge of the nation, and that is reflected in the data from the CDC. Drug overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids, excluding methadone, surged more than 100% to 20,145, from 9,945 in the period ending in January 2016, accounting for the most deaths among six drug types.

Heroin was the second-leading cause of overdose deaths through the 12-month period, accounting for 15,446 fatalities. Natural and semi-synthetic opioid abuse was responsible for 14,427 deaths, a 13.3% jump from the previous period.

Synthetic opioids claimed more deaths in Maryland than any other reporting jurisdiction, with 1,222, a more-than-threefold spike from a year ago. Synthetic opioids was one of four drug-type categories Maryland led in drug-abuse deaths. The others were heroin, natural and semi-synthetic opioids, and methadone.