CDC Reports Significant Increase in Opioid Overdose Deaths

Prescription opioid pain relievers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, contribute to more overdose deaths than any other opioid type, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Overdose deaths related to such prescription opioids increased by 9% in 2014, accounting for 813 more deaths than in 2013, indicates a CDC press release. Misuse and abuse of prescription opioid pain relievers and use of heroin are major factors contributing to the sharp rise in overdose deaths. Dependence upon or abuse of prescription opioids in the past year is the strongest risk factor for initiating heroin use, notes CDC. Findings indicate that opioid pain relievers and heroin were connected to over six out of 10 drug overdose deaths in 2014. To prevent overdose deaths, CDC recommends these four steps: • Provide tools and information, such as safer guidelines for prescribing opioid pain relievers, to help health care providers make more informed prescribing decisions. • Expand access to substance use disorder treatment, including Medication-Assisted Treatment, for people who suffer from opioid use disorder. • Expanding access and use of naloxone to help protect people with opioid use disorder. • Safeguard public health and safety by encouraging state and local public health agencies, medical examiners and coroners, and law enforcement agencies to work together to improve detection and response to illicit opioid overdose outbreaks. CDC offers resources for health care providers to improve patient safety. Data, tools, and guidance to make informed decisions can be found on CDC’s website.