A new study has indicated that US heroin overdoses have dramatically increased. Usually, illegal and prescription opioids are abused due to the fact that people become addictive to them. Opioids stick to the part of the brain which is responsible for controlling emotions and pain. Thus, the drug is bound to increase the levels of the hormone which makes us feel good, triggering an intense state of euphoria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released new data about the opioid epidemic in America on February 24. The information indicated that 1 out of 4 drug overdoses which were registered in 2015 were all related to heroin. This means that 25% of all overdose cases are related heroin addiction. Back in 1999, only 6% of overdose cases happened due to this drug.
Researchers analyzed all the overdose cases and established that the majority of these cases were constituted by the opioid-related deaths. In 2015, opioids overdoses stood for 73% of all overdose cases. The statistics indicated a dramatic increase since in 2010 the number showed that 57% of overdose deaths were due to opioid overdoses.
Opioids are known to include several dangerous chemical structures like fentanyl, oxycodone, and heroin. All these substances trigger addiction. Dr. Holly Hedegaard, scientists at the National Center for Health Statistics and also the co-author of the study, pointed out that in 2015 it was the first time when the US heroin overdoses have surpassed 50,000 cases. Back in 2010, the number of overdose deaths was estimated at 38,329 people.
To make a comparison, in 2015 in the United States, there were registered about 36,252 firearm deaths compared to more than 50,000 overdose deaths. Unfortunately, experts recorded an increased number of deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, too. In 2010, these drugs only represented 8% of overdose cases in America, while in 2015, they indicated a rise to 18% of overdose deaths.
Nevertheless, researchers revealed that there was a decrease in the number of overdose deaths which involved semisynthetic and natural opioid analgesics. These also included drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone. Even if in 2010 these chemical substances were related to 29% of drug overdose deaths, in 2015, the number decreased to 24%. Specialists suggested that this shift registered in the number of overdoses may indicate that addicts may have changed their habits, using different drugs.
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