CDC releases grim new opioid overdose figures: ‘We’re talking about more than an exponential increase’
The Washington Post – The national opioid epidemic escalated in 2016, driven by an unprecedented surge in deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opiates, according to new data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016, a 28 percent increase over 2015. The number of people fatally overdosing on fentanyl and other synthetic opiates more than doubled, from 9,580 in 2015 to 19,413 in 2016. Deaths due to heroin were up nearly 20 percent, and deaths from other opiate painkillers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, were up 14 percent.
“It's even worse than it looks,” said Keith Humphreys, an addiction specialist at Stanford University. Given that research has shown that the official figures could be undercounting the true number of opioid deaths by 20 percent or more, “we could easily be at 50,000 opioid deaths last year,” Humphreys said. “This means that even if you ignored deaths from all other drugs, the opioid epidemic alone is deadlier than the AIDS epidemic at its peak.”
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