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Aug-20-2018 01:00printcomments

Reduction in Deaths Due to Drug Overdose

Prescription drugs tend to act as a gateway drug to other serious drugs such as heroin.

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(SALEM, Ore.) - According to recent provisional death certificate data, there has been a decline in deaths by drug overdose. The data dates back to 2017 and reports that the decline was seen in 14 U.S. states. This is a sign that the preventive measure aimed at restricting the death toll are working.

Drug addiction is a major problem in the US and resulted in over 72,000 deaths in 2107 alone. While the number is high, but there’s hope with this new report in town. Caleb Alexander, an epidemiologist said “It could be welcome news”.

“If we’re truly at a plateau or inflection point, it would be the best news all year,” he said.

“But we’re still seeing rates of overdose that are leaps and bounds higher than what we were seeing a decade ago and far beyond any other country in the world.”

Drop in overdose includes states such as Wyoming and Utah. Even though more states have observed a similar trend, death rate in several states rose to 30% possibly due to an increasing distribution of the synthetic drug fentanyl. These states include Delaware, Florida and New Jersey.

In Alaska the death rate declined by 11% between 12 months period from July 2016 to July 2017.

Jay Butler, state’s public health chief, states that the greatest decrease was in drugs like opioids, OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.

“And we may be seeing a plateauing, if not a decline, in overdose deaths from heroin,” he added.

“The bad news is that we’re seeing more deaths from fentanyl.”

According to the report published in July 2017, total deaths due to fentanyl overdose rose to 70% in the US.

“Using illicit drugs has always been a game of roulette, there’s just more bullets in the chamber now,” Butler said. “When the epidemic was driven primarily by prescription opioids, we saw a smoldering and chronically escalating problem.”

“Now we’re seeing outbreaks and clusters of death resulting from bad batches of heroin or counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.”

Experts emphasize that the drop in deaths due to opioids in some states is significant considering it is an epidemic-like situation in the US.

There were 64,000 drug related deaths in in 2016, which is nearly three times as many as that in 1999. It became the leading cause of death among American at the age of 50 and under, even surpassing fatalities by accidents and homicide.

Even though the annual overdose count is still on the rise, however it is rising at a significantly lower rate. The total number of deaths increased by only 14 percent according to the report in July 2017 compared to 21 percent in the report published in January 2017.

Research suggests that this decline could be directly related to decline in the availability of prescription drugs. These prescription drugs tend to act as a gateway drug to other serious drugs such as heroin, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Source: Special Features Dept.


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