US Drug Overdose Deaths Spike
- Opioids are highly addictive. More than 2 million Americans now have an “opioid disorder.”
- Experts agree that the boom in Rx (prescription) painkillers triggered the rash of deaths from opioids in the United States today.
- A study published in April concluded that new medical marijuana laws reduced hospitalizations for opioid problems in those states by 23%.
- Hospitalizations for overdoses also dropped 13%.
Drug overdose deaths for the 12 months ending January 2017 rose 21%, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Drug overdose deaths climbed to 64,070 from 52,898 in January 2016, according to the CDC. In 22 selected jurisdictions, deaths attributed to drug overdose soared 27% to 26,841, up from 21,061 for the 12-month period ending in January.
Reporting jurisdictions were selected for inclusion based on 2 measures of data quality:
- Overall completeness of reporting (greater than 90%)
- Percentage of records pending investigation (less than 1.2%)
18 of the 22 jurisdictions reported an increase in drug overdose deaths. The biggest increases occurred in Delaware (71%), Maryland (67%), Florida (55%) and New York City (50%).
In terms of actual number of deaths in the 22 jurisdictions, Florida reported 5,167 deaths, followed by Texas with 2,799 and Illinois at 2,518.
Synthetic opioid abuse has become the scourge of the nation, and that is reflected in the data from the CDC. Drug overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids, excluding methadone, surged more than 100% to 20,145, from 9,945 in the period ending in January 2016, accounting for the most deaths among 6 drug types.
Heroin was the 2nd-leading cause of overdose deaths through the 12-month period, accounting for 15,446 fatalities. Natural and semi-synthetic opioid abuse was responsible for 14,427 deaths, a 13.3% jump from the previous period.
Synthetic opioids claimed more deaths in Maryland than any other reporting jurisdiction, with 1,222, a more-than-threefold spike from a year ago. Synthetic opioids was one of four drug-type categories Maryland led in drug-abuse deaths.
The others were heroin, natural and semi-synthetic opioids, and methadone.
The Big Q: Is Marijuana the answer to the Opioid Epidemic?
The Big A: Americans in pain are already turning to the marijuana plant.
The hope: One day you’ll have a choice of varieties or formulations of compounds in marijuana — called “cannabinoids” — that bring relief, aren’t addictive, and leave your mind clear.
“Cannabinoids will replace opioids for chronic pain in 5 to 10 years,” said an expert in the developing field.
There are no deaths recorded in the US attributed to the use of CBD painkillers.