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CDC: Heroin Overdose Deaths Doubled in Much of U.S.

Deaths from heroin overdose vary by age

THURSDAY, Oct. 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Deaths from heroin overdoses doubled from 2010 to 2012, according to research published in the Oct. 3 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

According to the report, overall, the death rate from heroin overdose in the 28 states that reported complete information to the CDC increased from 1.0 to 2.1 per 100,000 between 2010 and 2012. During that same time period, the death rate from overdoses of opioid pain relievers (OPRs) dropped slightly from 6.0 per 100,000 to 5.6 per 100,000. Heroin-related deaths have risen in every state studied, the CDC reported. However, the Northeast and South saw the greatest increases. Heroin overdoses rose 211 percent in the Northeast and 181 percent in the South from 2010 to 2012. At the same time, overdoses from heroin increased 62 percent in the Midwest and 91 percent in the West.

Deaths from heroin overdose also vary by age, study coauthor Len Paulozzi, M.D., a medical epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, told HealthDay. For example, deaths have climbed 120 percent among those 45 to 54 and about 109 percent among those 25 to 34. At the same time, deaths from OPR overdose have declined in these age groups.

"The findings in this report indicate a growing problem with heroin overdoses superimposed on a continuing problem with OPR overdoses," according to the report. "Given the rapid changes in drug overdose epidemiology, timely, drug-specific fatal and nonfatal surveillance data at the local, state, and regional level will be necessary to target prevention efforts."

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