NEW YORK – More than 50,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, the most ever.
The disastrous tally has pushed to new heights by the rising abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids.
Heroin deaths increased by 23 percent in one year, to 12,989, slightly higher than the number of gun murders, according to government data released Thursday.
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Deaths due to synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl, increased by 73 percent to 9,580. And the prescribed painkillers took the highest toll, but placed in the smallest increase. Abuse of drugs, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin killed 17,536, an increase of 4 percent.
“I don’t think we ever seen anything like this. Certainly not in the modern era,” said Robert Anderson, who is responsible for the death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new songs were a part of the agency annual measurement of the dead, and the death rates in 2015.
Overall, an overdose increased by 11 percent last year to an 52,404. By comparison, the number of people that died in a car accident 37,757, an increase of 12 percent. Gun deaths, including murder and suicide, in total 36,252, an increase of 7 percent.
As part of the annual report by the CDC also found that the prices for 8 of the 10 leading causes of death increased last year, making the nation’s life expectancy to go down for the first time in more than 20 years. Drug overdoses were a major factor, but an unexpected increase in mortality from heart disease, the nation’s No. 1 killer, was another important reason.