Pill and heroin deaths surge across the nation

pillsoverdoseDespite increased media coverage and efforts to crack down on abuse, overdose deaths due to prescription drugs and heroin continue to happen at alarming rates in many states.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick recently declared a public health emergency due to the sharp increase in heroin overdoses and opioid addiction, with many addicts shifting from more expensive and harder-to-get pills to heroin, which is cheaper and widely available. Massachusetts state police say 185 people died from suspected heroin overdoses between November and February, a figure that does not include overdose deaths in the state’s three largest cities; the number of all opioid-related deaths increased from 363 in 2000 to 642 in 2011.

In Oklahoma, unintentional prescription drug overdoses claimed the lives of 534 residents in 2012; state health authorities say about half of them had taken drugs prescribed by their own doctors, according to this article.

In Iowa, the number of heroin overdose deaths rose 700 percent from 2003 to 2012, from one death to eight, according to this article.

In Ohio, at least 200,000 residents are addicted to opioids such as heroin, including more than 10,000 in the Toledo area, while state surveys of treatment centers show that the epidemic has become far whiter and younger than it was in the 1970s or even a decade ago; in northwest Ohio, heroin-related deaths more than doubled last year — to 80, from 31 in 2012, according to this article.

The list goes on: Oregon, New Jersey, Nevada, Rhode Island. Prescription drug overdose deaths have now surpassed the number of deaths due to car accidents in the U.S., and heroin deaths are on the rise as well.

About Erin Marie Daly

I’m a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. My book on prescription drug and heroin addiction was published in August 2014 by Counterpoint Press.
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