Pubdate: Wed, 08 Jul 2015
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2015 The Washington Post Company
Author: Lenny Bernstein


Highly Addictive Prescription Painkillers Are Particular Concern

 From page A1 Heroin addiction and the rate of fatal overdoses have 
increased rapidly over the past decade, touching parts of society 
that previously were relatively unscathed, the Centers for Disease 
Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

The death rate from overdoses nearly quadrupled to 2.7 per 100,000 
people from 2002 to 2013, CDC Director Tom Frieden said during a 
telephone news conference Tuesday.

In 60 percent of those cases, the cause of death was attributed to 
heroin and at least one other drug, often cocaine, said Chris Jones, 
the lead author of the report and a member of the Food and Drug 
Administration's Office of Public Health Strategy and Analysis.

More than 8,200 people died of heroin overdoses in 2013.

Officials are especially concerned about prescription opioids, which 
are highly addictive painkillers and can set people on a path to 
heroin use, Frieden said. He added that the painkillers are sometimes 
prescribed - or overprescribed - by physicians who are not highly 
trained in pain management.

"A few doses and someone can have a life of addiction, a few too many 
and someone can die of an overdose," Frieden said. With heroin an 
estimated five times less expensive than prescription drugs and 
widely available on the street, people with opioid addictions are 
turning to the drug in large numbers, he said.

The annual rate of heroin use rose from 1.6 per 1,000 people between 
2002 and 2004 to 2.6 per 1,000 between 2011 and 2013, according to 
the report. That includes a doubling among women, a 114 percent 
increase for whites and a 109 percent rise among people ages 18 to 
25, the report shows. From 2011 to 2013, about 663,000 people said 
they had used heroin in the past year, up from 379,000 between 2002 
and 2004, said Jones, who accompanied Frieden at the news conference.

About 12 million people have used prescription opioids, Jones said, 
and an estimated 16,000 people die of overdoses from them.

Frieden called for more judicious use of the painkillers by 
physicians who, he said, should seek other ways to manage some forms 
of chronic pain. He also urged the expanded use of naloxone, a drug 
that can temporarily block the effects of an overdose, and greater 
efforts by law enforcement to disrupt heroin distribution networks.
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