The Centers for Disease Control announced Friday that the number of Americans dying from drug overdoses has reached record highs.
In a newly released report, the federal public health agency said that "more persons died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2014 than during any previous year on record." The statistics the CDC presented were bleak:
The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose (poisoning) deaths. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, including a 200% increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin). CDC analyzed recent multiple cause-of-death mortality data to examine current trends and characteristics of drug overdose deaths, including the types of opioids associated with drug overdose deaths. During 2014, a total of 47,055 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States, representing a 1-year increase of 6.5%, from 13.8 per 100,000 persons in 2013 to 14.7 per 100,000 persons in 2014.
Heroin and prescription painkillers were responsible for 61 percent of the deaths, the New York Times noted.
The CDC singled out 14 states with particularly sharp increases in drug overdose deaths. New Hampshire, which is battling a severe epidemic of heroin usage, saw a 73.5 percent increase in deaths from 2013 to 2014.
The CDC is currently in the midst of a battle over prescription drugs. The agency is trying to produce new guidelines that would encourage doctors to prescribe potentially addictive painkillers only as a last resort. But drug companies and even some officials at the Federal Drug Administration have pushed back at the effort.