More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.1 And since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin) nearly quadrupled.2 From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
We now know that overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled,2 yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.3,4 Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have also quadrupled since 1999.5
In Massachusetts, real time data have just been made available, and fentanyl and heroin overdose deaths outweigh those involving prescription opioids 4 to 1 and 3 to 1, respectively. Prescription opioids were only found in 20% of OD deaths.
Afghanistan had a bumper crop of opium this year, while illicit fentanyl consumption and production (which, unlike heroin, does not require opium as a raw material, and its potential production is virtually limitless) is also booming.
Why does CDC blow smoke about the narcotic crisis?