Powerful Synthetic Opioids Fuel Surge in Overdose Death Rate | Medpage Today – by Judy George – March 29, 2018
Here you can find all the different types of overdoses and see how they are increasing mainly due to fentanyl, which is getting mixed into most other illicit drugs, like heroin, cocaine, and even counterfeit prescription pills.
Death rates for overdoses involving highly potent synthetic opioids other than methadone — including illicitly manufactured fentanyl as well as the prescription kind — more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, propelling an overall increase in opioid deaths of 27.9% in that one-year period, according to the CDC.
Synthetic opioids were present in 19,413 overdose deaths in 2016, up from 9,580 deaths in 2015, reported Puja Seth, PhD, of the CDC in Atlanta and colleagues in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
They accounted for 30.5% of all drug overdose deaths and 45.9% of all opioid-involved deaths in 2016.
Overall, opioids were involved in 42,249 drug overdose deaths in 2016, accounting for 66.4% of overdose deaths. The largest increase in opioid overdose death rates was in men 25 to 44 years old.
While the greatest surge came from synthetic opioids, death rates from other legal forms of opioids, heroin, cocaine, and psychostimulants also increased.
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is mixed into counterfeit opioid and benzodiazepine pills, heroin, and cocaine, likely contributed to increases in overdoses involving these other substances, the CDC researchers wrote.
The researchers believe that overuse or diversion of legally manufactured fentanyl is probably not to blame for much, if any, of the surge in overdose deaths.
Although death certificates don’t distinguish between illicit and prescription versions, “we know from prior studies that the increase in synthetic opioid deaths — other than methadone — has paralleled the increase in illicitly made fentanyl seized by law enforcement,” Seth told MedPage Today.
He also noted that law enforcement officials have linked “illegally or illicitly made fentanyl” to the growing number of overdoses.
Overdose deaths increased in all categories for both men and women, in people ages 15 and older, across all races and ethnicities, and across all levels of urbanization in the 31 states and the District of Columbia included in the CDC’s analysis.
Death rates differed by state, with New Hampshire, Ohio, and West Virginia experiencing the highest overdose death rates in multiple categories.
Death rates from overdoses involving synthetic opioids increased in 21 states, with 10 states doubling their rates from 2015 to 2016.
Deaths involving heroin increased significantly in 14 states. In some states — Maryland, Rhode Island, and West Virginia — deaths involving prescription opioids were higher than ones involving heroin.
Overall, heroin-related overdose deaths increased by 19.5% from 12,989 in 2015 to 15,469 in 2016, while the prescription opioid-related overdose death rate increased by 10.6%, from 15,281 to 17,087.
Cocaine-related overdose deaths also increased by 52.4%, from 6,784 deaths in 2015 to 10,375 in 2016.
Psychostimulant deaths rose by 33.3%, from 5,716 to 7,542 in this period, too.
This study is limited by the time and locations in which autopsies were performed, the researchers noted; improvements in toxicology testing might account for some increases.
About 15% to 17% of drug overdose death certificates did not specify the drugs involved.
And the percentage of drug overdose death certificates with at least one drug specified varied widely by state, ranging from 52.5% to 99.3% in 2016, which may limit rate comparisons between states.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report – Source Reference: Seth P, et al “Overdose deaths involving opioids, cocaine, and psychostimulants — United States, 2015–2016” MMWR 2018; DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6712a1.