For the first time since the late 1990’s there are more deaths due to Heroin use than to other opioid painkillers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.
Even more shocking, for the first time ever, heroin-related deaths exceeded gun homicides in 2015, according to a new report released from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Washington Post has noted that “As recently as 2007, gun homicides outnumbered heroin deaths by more than 5 to 1.”
The report shows that opioid related deaths have continued to grow, and in 2015, surpassed 30,000 for the first time in recent history.
While the study shows deaths due to other powerful synthetic drugs continuing to rise, Heroin induced deaths have risen by more than 2,000 cases according to the Washington Post.
In 2014 61% of drug overdose deaths were due to opiate use according to the CDC report. It is reported that the current opioid predicament stems from the drastic increase in use of the prescription painkillers in the 1990s and early 2000s. As these opiates can cause dependencies, many Americans have formed addictions to the drugs.
The Post also noted that deaths recorded and categorized by the CDC may not be “mutually exclusive,” as, “deaths may involve more than one individual drug category. For example, death could be due to use of Heroin in conjunction with alcohol.
CDC Director Tom Frieden released a statement saying, “The epidemic of deaths involving opioids continues to worsen. Prescription opioid misuse and use of heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl are intertwined and deeply troubling problems.”
On Monday, Congress passed a spending bill to help combat the opioid epidemic.
The bill will prove $1 billion in funding for prevention and treatment programs.
The Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose said in a statement, “This legislation can help create real change for the millions of Americans impacted by the opioid crisis.”
While people call criminal charges in these cases, drug policy reformers say that this is counterproductive to the problem.
Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance said, “It drives a wedge between people who need help and the services they need. Because of criminalization and stigma, people hide their addictions from others.”
The new drug fighting bill will be making its way to President Obama’s desk in the coming days for approval. If signed, the funds will be used over the next two years to combat the ever growing problem.
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