Deaths Due to Drug Use Rose More than 600 Percent in 35 Years


A new study of every county in the United States finds deaths due to drug use increased more than 600 percent between 1980 and 2014. Almost 550,000 deaths were attributed to drug use over the study’s 35 years. In some counties in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and eastern Oklahoma, increases in drug-related deaths exceeded 5,000 percent, according to ABC News. The study did not distinguish between illegal and prescription drugs. Death rates decreased for alcohol use disorders, self-harm, and interpersonal violence at the national level between 1980 and 2014, the researchers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “To our knowledge, this study is the first at the county level to consider drug use disorders and distinguish between intentional and unintentional overdoses,” lead researcher Dr. Laura Dwyer-Lindgren of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said in a news release.

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Opioid Overdoses Fuel Rise in Accidental Deaths


Opioid overdoses are fueling a sharp increase in accidental deaths in the United States, according to a new report by the National Safety Council (NSC). The group found accidental deaths became the third-leading cause of fatalities in 2016 for the first time in more than a century, NPR reports. Accidents accounted for 161,374 deaths that year, up 10 percent from 2015. Common causes of accidental deaths include motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, choking and poisoning—a category that includes accidental overdoses. In a statement, NSC said, “The unprecedented spike [in accidental deaths] has been fueled by the opioid crisis. Unintentional opioid overdose deaths totaled 37,814 from drugs including prescription opioid pain relievers, heroin, and illicitly-made fentanyl.”

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Deaths During Opioid-Related Hospital Stays in U.S. Quadrupled


A new study released earlier this week confirms that deaths in opioid-related hospital stays in the U.S. have quadrupled between 1993 and 2014, PBS NewsHour reports. Zirui Song, an assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School and a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, launched the study in 2016 in an effort to gain a better understanding of the patients he treated. Dr. Song analyzed nearly 385,000 hospital stays involving patients who were admitted for opioid use with data from the National Inpatient Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, a national database compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality. His research confirmed that by 2014, four times as many patients died from opioid-related causes while staying in the hospital, rising from 0.43 percent before 2000 to 2.02 percent. Over the same time period, the study also found that patients admitted to the hospital for opioid use...

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Opioid Epidemic Drives Up Death Rate Among Americans Ages 25 to 44


The nation’s opioid epidemic is fueling a rise in the overall death rate among Americans ages 25 to 44, according to an analysis of government data by The Washington Post. Death rates in this age group have increased in almost every racial and ethnic group since the beginning of this decade, the newspaper found. The death rate rose 12 percent among whites, 4 percent among African Americans, 7 percent among Hispanics and 18 percent among Native Americans. The increase has been due in large part to drug overdoses and alcohol abuse, the analysis found. Opioid use is a major factor in the increase, the article notes. “What it reflects is an out-of-control epidemic right now,” Josh Sharfstein, Director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at Johns Hopkins, told the newspaper. “It’s affecting the economy. It’s affecting the entire community. This is an absolute call to action for public health.”

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Smoking Causes One-Tenth of Deaths Worldwide

Smoking Causes One-Tenth of Deaths Worldwide

Smoking causes one-tenth of deaths worldwide, according to a new study sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Half of the deaths occur in the United States, China, India and Russia. “Despite more than 50 years of anti-tobacco efforts, smoking remains a leading global risk factor,” researchers wrote in The Lancet. “Its toll will remain substantial without more concerted policy initiatives, policy compliance and enforcement, and sustained political will to offset commercial interests.” The study found almost one in seven people smoked worldwide in 2015—one in four men and one in 20 women, CNBC reports. The study analyzed smoking habits in 195 countries between 1990 and 2015.

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One Million People Use Heroin in U.S., Almost Triple the 2003 Rate

One Million People Use Heroin in U.S., Almost Triple the 2003 Rate

An estimated one million people used heroin in the United States in 2014, almost triple the 2003 rate, according to a new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Heroin-related deaths have increased five-fold since 2000, the World Drug Report 2016 found. Heroin use is at its highest level in 20 years in the United States, CBS News reports. The report calls the rise in heroin use in some regions of the world alarming. “While the challenges posed by new psychoactive substances remain a serious concern, heroin continues to be the drug that kills the most people. This resurgence must be addressed urgently,” the report concludes. Western and Central Europe have also been hit hard by heroin use and overdose deaths in the last two years, the report notes. There was a sharp global decrease in opium production in 2015, but that is unlikely to lead to major...

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Drug Overdoses Among Top Three Causes of Injury Deaths in U.S.

Drug Overdoses Among Top Three Causes of Injury Deaths in U.S.

Guns, drug overdoses and motor vehicle crashes are the top three causes of injury-related death in the United States, according to a new study. Researchers say those causes of injury contribute to Americans’ shorter life expectancy compared with people in 12 other wealthy countries. The average American will die as much as two years sooner than people living in Western Europe or Japan, the study found. More than 100,000 Americans die each year from motor vehicle traffic crashes, firearm-related injuries, and drug poisonings, the researchers report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The researchers from the National Center for Health Statistics found men in Western Europe and Japan had a life expectancy advantage of 2.2 years over American men and women. The top three injury causes of death accounted for 1.02 years of the life expectancy gap among men. Firearm-related injuries accounted for 21 percent of the gap, drug...

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