The National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control, estimates that drug overdoses killed 64,070 people in the United States last year, a rise of 21% from 2015.
To put this into perspective, the drug overdoses in 2016 killed at almost double the rate from both firearms and vehicles. Additionally, this epidemic has resulted in the deaths of more Americans than the 55,000 killed in the Vietnam War and amounts to more deaths than the 43,000 lost during the peak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
It is speculated that much of the increase can be attributed to the synthetic opioid, fentanyl. Fentanyl along with other synthetic opioids is blamed for 20,145 deaths in 2016, more than the 15,446 deaths attributed to heroin or the 14,427 deaths attributed to opioid pills such as OxyContin and Percocet. The number of deaths attributed to synthetic opioids in 2015 was 9,948, indicating that the number of deaths from synthetic opioids has doubled in a year. The National figures also showed an increase in deaths attributed to stimulants, like cocaine and psychostimulants like methamphetamine.
This crisis originally began with the over-prescription of opioids for pain management. Over time however, many individuals who had become addicted to their prescription pain medications, moved onto other opiates, particularly heroin and fentanyl.
The extent of the problem is sticking and devastating. In 2016, the surgeon general reported that just ten percent of Americans with a drug use disorder obtain treatment and that one reason was explained by a shortage of treatment options. This fact is all the more notable and troubling when considering the fact that drug overdoses have skyrocketed.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, please call New Bridge Foundation for a free assessment at (866) 772-8491 .