Report: Fatal Drug Overdoses Skyrocketed in the U.S. Last Year

Heroin overdose deaths have reportedly increased by 533 percent since 2002.

This is a photo of heroin victims.

Image via Getty/Spencer Platt

This is a photo of heroin victims.

A newly released government report has revealed more alarming data about the country’s opioid crisis.

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the number of heroin users increased by 135 percent from 404,000 users in 2002 to 948,000 last year. Even more shocking, the number of fatal heroin overdoses increased by 533 percent from 2,089 in 2002 to an estimated 13,219 in 2016.

CNN reports U.S. drug overdose deaths are expected reach 71,600 this year.

“We saw more than 50,000 drug overdose deaths, most of them due to opioids, in 2015—roughly equivalent to the number of Americans lost in the Vietnam War,” Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price said during a (NSDUH) panel. “Think about that: We are losing a Vietnam War to drug overdose every year […] The opioid crisis, as you all know, is taking a bigger and bigger toll every year—each year, a new unprecedented level of lives lost.”

The report also revealed that about 11.8 million Americans misused opioids in 2016. Of that figure, 11.5 million people misused prescribed opioids, like Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Fentanyl; abuse of the latter is expected to cause 20,145 deaths in 2017, more than double than the 9,945 deaths in 2016.

Additionally, deaths caused by cocaine overdose have increased from around 4,000 in 2009 to more than 6,700 in 2015. That number is expected to reach nearly 7,000 in 2016 and to 11,000 by the end of 2017.

“Today’s report underscores the serious challenges we face with the opioid crisis and serious mental illness,” Price said. “The good news is that it is within our power to turn these trends around. Doing so will enable millions of Americans to live longer, healthier lives, endowed with the kind of purpose and meaning we all want for our children, our neighbors and our fellow Americans.”

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