A grim tally soars: More than 50,000 overdose deaths in US - InfoNews

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A grim tally soars: More than 50,000 overdose deaths in US

FILE - This Tuesday, May 19, 2015 file photo shows a firearm and 154 pounds of heroin worth at least $50 million displayed during a Drug Enforcement Administration news conference in New York. According to government data released Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. surpassed 50,000 in 2015, the highest mark in at least 15 years.
Image Credit: (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
December 08, 2016 - 8:30 PM

NEW YORK - More than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the most ever.

The disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids.

Heroin deaths rose 23 per cent in one year, to 12,989, slightly higher than the number of gun homicides, according to government data released Thursday.

Deaths from synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl, rose 73 per cent to 9,580. And prescription painkillers took the highest toll, but posted the smallest increase. Abuse of drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin killed 17,536, an increase of 4 per cent.

"I don't think we've ever seen anything like this. Certainly not in modern times," said Robert Anderson, who oversees death statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new numbers were part of the agency's annual tally of deaths and death rates in 2015.

Overall, overdose deaths rose 11 per cent last year, to 52,404. By comparison, the number of people who died in car crashes was 37,757, an increase of 12 per cent. Gun deaths, including homicides and suicides, totalled 36,252, up 7 per cent.

As part of its annual report the CDC also found that rates for 8 of the 10 leading causes of death rose last year, causing the nation's life expectancy to go down for the first time in more than 20 years. Drug overdoses were a significant factor, but an unexpected increase in the death rate from heart disease, the nation's No. 1 killer, was another major reason.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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