Overdose deaths increased by 33 percent in the last 5 years

FILE – In this June 17, 2016 file photo, Erika Marble visit the grave of Edward Martin III, her fiancé and father of her two children, in Littleton, N. H.


CONCORD, N. H. – Drug overdose have increased by 33 percent in the last five years in the country, with some states seeing jumps of almost 200 percent.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 states saw increases in overdose deaths as a result of the abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids. New Hampshire saw a 191 percent increase, while North Dakota, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine had the death rates jump by more than 100 percent.

“Too many Americans are feeling the devastation of the opioid crisis, or abuse of prescription opiates or the use of illegal opiates,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the CDC. “Urgent action is needed to help health care providers in the treatment of pain and safe in the treatment of opioid use disorder effectively support law enforcement strategies to reduce the availability of illegal opiates, and support of the member states to develop and implement programs that can save lives.”

Last year, more than 52,000 people died from drug overdoses, with nearly two-thirds relates to prescription or illegal opiates. Deaths due to synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl, rose 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.

In comparison with 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.

The CDC report also included death certificate information for victims of opioid overdose in the 28 states, finding that 16 saw a jump in the mortality rates of synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl. New York (135.7 percent), Connecticut (125.9 percent) and Illinois (120 per cent) were hit the hardest. As the heroin deaths, 11 states increases, with South Carolina (57.1%), North Carolina (46.4 percent) and Tennessee (43.5 percent) see the largest peak.

“It is certainly disheartening for those of us in public health,” said Katherine Keyes, an epidemiologist from Columbia University, that the research of the drug of abuse.

“A part of what is for many epidemiologists and other public health professionals, is the rise in these high doses of opioids such as fentanyl, which really contribute in very thin ways to the overdose epidemic,” she said. “What you saw in the CDC report is that one of the main categories where you saw a rise in overdoses was when fentanyl is involved. Certainly, that is no surprise to those of us who have been working in the opioid addiction and overdose. But it is a stark reminder that the challenge we are faced with these new synthetic opioids.”

The Northeast is particularly hard hit by the drug crisis, with a New Hampshire for people who are suffering the most. Just this year, an overdose is expected to be a top 500. The state of the congressional delegation was among those in support of a bill that will provide $1 billion in funding to the states to fight heroin and opioid abuse.

Heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers are the main causes of addiction in recent years.

“It is clear that the fact that 500 people are going to admit to the addiction of this year is just a terrible tragedy,” said Republican Jeb Bradley, the state Senate majority leader. “It reminds us that we should ensure that we … monitor carefully what works and what doesn’t and be prepared when we come back in January to tackle this problem.”

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