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Heroin Overdose Death Rates Quadrupled Since 2000, Says CDC

Jun 05, 2015 12:22AM ● Published by Taylorsville Mayor Larry Johnson

Rarely a day goes by where law enforcement and/or fire services don’t respond to a heroin overdose in the Salt Lake Valley.  Typically these cases are “text book” versions, whereby the addict begins his/her abuse with opioid painkillers, such as Lortab, Oxycontin or Oxycodone.  Once the abuser becomes an addict and the financial realities of trying to purchase opioid pain killers becomes unsustainable, they turn to heroin.  Not only does this prove personally and financially challenging for the addict and their loved ones, but it creates increases in property crimes which has a negative effect on everyone in the community.

Death rates from heroin overdoses have nearly quadrupled since 2000 to reach 2.7 per 100,000 people in 2013, according to a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And much of that growth occurred after 2010 — 37 percent each year from 2010 to 2013, the report said, from 1 death per 100,000 people to 2.7 per 100,000 people. Death rates from non-opioid painkillers declined slightly after 2010, from 5.4 deaths per 100,000 people to 5.1 per 100,000 in 2013.

One obvious reason is the expanded use of heroin in recent years. The number of current heroin users — meaning that they have used the drug within the last month — in the U.S. has more than doubled in the last decade, from 119,000 in 2003 to 289,000 in 2013.

So what is the answer?  First and foremost, education, which leads to increases in prevention and treatment of those who are already involved.

We need to educate our youth, parents, clergy and educators on the stark realities of this epidemic.  We also need to do everything we can to get people off of opioids before they end up addicted to heroin.  In essence treat the root cause and make legitimate headway in this startling trend.

Information provided by the CDC as well as UPD.

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