Top 6 new facts on drug overdoses

November 4, 2015

Deaths from drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, ahead of deaths linked to motor vehicles and firearms, according to the new 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA), released by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Deaths from drug overdoses are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, ahead of deaths linked to motor vehicles and firearms, according to the new 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA), released by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The top 6 findings from the NDTA include:

#1. In 2013, more than 46,000 people in the United States died from drug overdose and more than half of those were caused by prescription painkillers and heroin.

#2. Since 2002, prescription drug deaths have outpaced those of cocaine and heroin combined. Abuse of controlled prescription drugs is higher than that of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA, and PCP combined. Seventeen of the DEA’s 21 field districts reported that controlled prescription drug (CPD) availability was high during the first half of 2014. However, 15% of DEA field districts said that CPDs were the greatest drug threat in their area-down from 28% in 2013.

#3. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 25 to 40 times more potent than heroin, has caused over 700 deaths in the United States between late 2013 and early 2015. Fentanyl is sometimes added to heroin batches, or sold by itself as heroin, unknown to the user.

#4. CPD diversion by robbery and theft is increasing in some areas of the United States In 2014, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oklahoma reported a significant increase in the number of armed robberies from the previous year.

#5. Heroin availability is up across the country, as are abusers, overdoses, and overdose deaths. Law enforcement nationwide report a significant spike in heroin abuse as a result of prescription opioid addiction. Heroin overdose deaths are also a result of high-purity batches unknown to the user, as well as heroin adulterants such as fentanyl.

#6. Synthetic designer drugs from China-particularly cannabinoids, cathinones, and phenethylamines-continue to wreak havoc in the United States. Much of the proceeds of the sale of designer synthetic drugs from China flow to Middle Eastern countries such as Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

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