"First, factors related to death investigation might affect rate estimates involving specific drugs. At autopsy, the substances tested for, and circumstances under which tests are performed to determine which drugs are present, might vary by jurisdiction and over time. Second, the percentage of deaths with specific drugs identified on the death certificate varies by jurisdiction and over time. Nationally, 19% (in 2014) and 17% (in 2015) of drug overdose death certificates did not include the specific types of drugs involved.
"During 2015, drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 U.S. deaths, including 33,091 (63.1%) that involved an opioid. There has been progress in preventing methadone deaths, and death rates declined by 9.1%. However, rates of deaths involving other opioids, specifically heroin and synthetic opioids other than methadone (likely driven primarily by illicitly manufactured fentanyl) (2,3), increased sharply overall and across many states."
"In 2014, alcohols, including ethanol and isopropyl alcohol, were involved in 15% of all drug overdose deaths and 17% of the drug overdose deaths that mentioned involvement of at least one specific drug. Table E shows the frequency of alcohol involvement among drug overdose deaths involving specific drugs.
" Alcohol involvement was mentioned in 12%–22% of the drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, alprazolam, diazepam, or cocaine.
(Factors in the Transition from Prescription Opiate Use to Heroin Use) "Multiple studies that have examined why some persons who abuse prescription opioids initiate heroin use indicate that the cost and availability of heroin were primary factors in this process.
"A key factor underlying the recent increases in rates of heroin use and overdose may be the low cost and high purity of heroin.45,46 The price in retail purchases has been lower than $600 per pure gram every year since 2001, with costs of $465 in 2012 and $552 in 2002, as compared with $1237 in 1992 and $2690 in 1982.45 A recent study showed that each $100 decrease in the price per pure gram of heroin resulted in a 2.9% increase in the number of hospitalizations for heroin overdose.46"
Number of Painkiller Prescriptions Written Annually In The US: "Prescribers wrote 82.5 OPR [Opioid Pain Reliever] prescriptions and 37.6 benzodiazepine prescriptions per 100 persons in the United States in 2012 (Table). LA/ER [Long-Acting or Extended Release] OPR accounted for 12.5%, and high-dose OPR accounted for 5.1% of the estimated 258.9 million OPR prescriptions written nationwide. Prescribing rates varied widely by state for all drug types. For all OPR combined, the prescribing rate in Alabama was 2.7 times the rate in Hawaii."
" Heroin was reported as the primary substance of abuse for 26 percent of TEDS admissions aged 12 and older in 2015 [Table 1.1b].
" Sixty-seven percent of primary heroin admissions were non-Hispanic White (41 percent were males and 26 percent were females). Non-Hispanic Blacks made up 14 percent (9 percent were males and 5 percent were females). Admissions of Puerto Rican origin made up 7 percent of primary heroin admissions (6 percent were males and 1 percent were females) [Table 2.3b]. See Chapter 3 for additional data on heroin admissions.
"Even though opioids have been controlled in the United States with regulations and restrictions, opioid utilization has been increasing at an unprecedented pace (1-10). Manchikanti et al (1), in an evaluation of opioid usage over a period of 10 years, showed an overall increase of 149% in retail sales of opioids from 1997 to 2007 in the United States, with an increase of 1,293% for methadone, 866% for oxycodone, and 525% for fentanyl.
"We identified a total of 986 cases over the 1998–2006 study time frame in which physicians had been criminally charged and/or administratively reviewed with offenses involving the prescribing of opioid analgesics. 335 were criminal cases (178 state, 157 federal) and 651 were administrative cases (525 state medical board cases, 126 DEA administrative actions regarding CS registrations).
"Numbers and Specialties of Study Physicians
"The heart of the challenge is the possibility that things could be different: overdose is a public health problem that can be solved. Unlike many of the other leading causes of death, death from opioid overdose is almost entirely preventable,21 and preventable at a low cost.22 Opioids kill by depressing respiration, a slow mode of death that leaves plenty of time for effective medical intervention.23 Overdose is rapidly reversed by the administration of a safe and inexpensive drug called naloxone.