More than 50,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2015, new all-time high
More than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the most ever.
The disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids.
The opioid epidemic in numbers
Heroin deaths rose 23% in one year, to 12,989, slightly higher than the number of gun homicides, according to US government data released December 8.
Deaths from synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl, rose 73% to 9,580. And prescription painkillers took the highest toll, but posted the smallest increase. Abuse of drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin killed 17,536, an increase of 4%.
Overall, overdose deaths rose 11% in 2015, to 52,404. By comparison, the number of people who died in car crashes was 37,757, an increase of 12%. Gun deaths, including homicides and suicides, totaled 36,252, up 7%.
The Chicago Tribune reports Robert Anderson of the CDC saying:
I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this. Certainly not in modern times.”