Drug Overdose Related Deaths Reach 65,000 in 2016

by Sean Gunderson

August 03, 2017

An early calculation of 2016 drug deaths by The New York Times estimates that overdose deaths were as high as 65,000 last year. That is equivalent to a fully loaded 747 crashing 3x a week, EVERY WEEK, for a full year. The infographic below helps to visualize that shocking fact.

Imagine the panic and outrage that would result if these deaths were occurring in a more visible way. The drug overdose epidemic is now claiming more lives than both homicides and automobile accidents combined.

Here are some addiction facts about the U.S. opiate epidemic that really put this crisis into perspective:

  • Today, Americans consume 80% of the global opioid supply.
  • Opiate overdoses in the U.S. have more than tripled since 1999. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that the number of drug overdose deaths has increased for the 14th consecutive year.
  • Many new heroin users actually started by misusing prescription opioids. About 80 percent of people in the U.S. who recently started using heroin report that they previously took opioid pain relievers for non-medical reasons. (SAMHSA)
  • In the U.S. there were 16.3 drug overdose deaths per every 100,000 people in 2015. In West Virginia there were 41.5 for every 100,000 people.
    According to Health and Human Services, in 2015, 276,000 adolescents (12 to 17 years old) were current non-medical users of pain relievers, with 122,000 having an addiction to prescription pain relievers.
  • In 2015, more than 300 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle.

It is clear that this epidemic will continue, if not grow, if drastic steps are not taken to better prevent and treat addiction. Some of the priorities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is to focus on improving access to treatment and recovery services and to provide support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction.

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