Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50. Public health experts estimate that 2016 drug overdose deaths exceeded 59,000; the largest year over year increase ever recorded in the United States, according to data compiled by The New York Times. The increase represents an estimated 19 percent jump over 2015 opioid prescription deaths which saw 52,404 recorded drug overdose deaths. First half of the year numbers indicate that the problem is only getting worse in 2017.
Drug overdoses now leading cause of preventable deaths in U.S.
It is hardly news that the U.S. has been in the throws of an escalating public health crisis that first excelerated with the liberalization of prescription painkillers in the 1990s. The resulting opioid addictions have only been made worse by an influx of illegally manufactured drugs like Fentanyl.
The states that saw the biggest annual increases in drug overdoses between 2015 and 2016 include Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maine and Ohio. In Ohio, for example, it is estimated that drug overdose deaths increased by 25 percent in 2016 compared to the median 19 percent.
Many opioid addictions begin as prescription drug dependence. Click here for prescription drug overdose statistics.
Drug overdose statistics between 1980 and 2016
To underscore the gravity of the problem, it is useful to look back at drug overdose statistics over the last 40 years. Drug overdose deaths in 1980 were 10,000, they rose to 20,000 in 2000 and then doubled to 40,000 in 2010 before continuing their climb to at least 59,000 in 2016.
Washington State Interagency Opioid Working Plan to reduce opioid deaths
On October 7, 2016 Governor Jay Inslee issued an executive order to release the state strategy to reduce opioid addiction and overdoses. Here is the Washington State Interagency Opioid Working Plan (PDF). The strategy is implemented by state government agencies, tribal governing bodies, local health departments, professional groups, and community organizations. They must actively work together to implement the priority goals, strategies, and actions outlined in the working plan to decrease opioid deaths throughout the state. Click here for the 2016 WA State Opioid Response Plan Progress Report – December 19, 2016 (PDF).
International Overdose Awareness Day is 8/31. It is a global event held each year to raise awareness about drug overdose, to honor and remember those who have lost their lives to drug overdose and bring awareness to the grief experienced by families, friends and loved ones.
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