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Painkillers, Heroin increase US overdose cases

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December 13
9:00 PM 2015

A powerful type of opioid painkillers and Heroin are the leading causes of drug overdose in the US, according to new federal statistics.

Yahoo News reported that opioid painkillers have long been the leading reasons for overdose deaths in the US, but cases of death with heroin use have recently grown. Experts believe that addicts have shifted from painkillers to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to get.

Last year, fatalities with opioid use increased 16 percent to 19,000 deaths. Meanwhile, heroin deaths went up 28 percent to 10,500. The new statistics also shows a slight increase in deaths due to sedatives and cocaine, but these figures are far less compared to opioids and heroine. These data came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NBC News wrote that drug overdose cases increased 7 percent last year, surpassing 47,000 compared to the figures from the previous year. CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said the drug overdose problem of the US "is not getting better."

According to Pulse Headlines, drug overdoses have been driving the increasing death rates in the nation. Life expectancy in the US has stalled for the third consecutive year, according to CDC. Statistics from the federal agency shows that a baby born in 2014 is expected to live an average of 78 years.

Meanwhile, Opioid pain relievers, includes Vicodin, OxyContin, and methadone. These particular drugs are the major focus of the government campaign.

CDC urged doctors to only prescribe these drugs to very serious cases such as cancer and end-of-life care. However, these drugs are easily given to common health conditions like back pain and arthritis.

CDC is creating new guidelines to regulate doctors from prescribing these drugs. According to CDC, the increase in deaths due to painkillers may be caused by fentanyl, which is illegally-made.

This drug is s synthetic form of morphine. When heroin is mixed with fentanyl, risk of death is higher. This means fentanyl may have also contributed to the increase in death rates due to heroin.

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