Pubdate: Fri, 03 Oct 2014
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Associated Press
Author: Mike Stobbe,The Associated Press
Page: A08


Overdoses Spike in 2 Years Across Much of Nation As Users Trade Pills 
for Needle

NEW YORK (AP) - Deaths from heroin overdose doubled in just two years 
in much of the nation, a new government study says.

The annual number of U.S. drug overdose deaths has been growing for 
more than 20 years. Officials have been most worA-ried about a class 
of powerful prescription 'opioid' painkillers like Vicodin and 
OxyContin. Deaths involving such painkillers continue to be much more 
common than heroin-related deaths, the study found.

But while those deaths are leveling off or declining in many parts of 
the country, heroin-related deaths soared between 2010 and 2012 in 
the 28 states for which information was available to the researchers.

Heroin overdose deaths rose from 1,779 to 3,665, doubling the death 
rate to 2.1 deaths per 100,000 people.

Heroin-related deaths increased in both men and women, in all age 
groups, and in whites, blacks and Hispanics.

Officials say the trend's future is hard to predict. 'It's a volatile 
situation,' said one of the study's authors, Len Paulozzi of the 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study looked at 2012 overdose death data from death certificates 
and compared it to 2010. The 28 states sampled include more than half 
of the U.S. population and account for more than half of the nation's 
drug overdose deaths.

Overdose numbers from all the states are not expected to be released 
for at least a few more months.

While the heroin death toll doubled, deaths linked to opioid 
painkillers fell in the 28 states, from 10,427 in 2010 to 9,869 in 
2012. The death rate declined to 5.6 per 100,000.

Experts believe one reason heroin-related deaths increased may be 
because people who had been abusing the painkillers may have switched 
to heroin. Recent restrictions on prescribing opioid painkillers may 
be reducing illicit supplies of them at a time when the heroin supply 
has been increasing, CDC officials said.
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