Everyone knows heroin use is a widespread issue, but when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the rate of heroin deaths doubled over just two years’ time, leaders will undoubtedly see it as a call to action. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for October 3, 2014, quantified the scope of the problem.
From 2010 to 2012, the death rate from heroin overdose for the 28 states that researchers studied increased from 1.0 to 2.1 per 100,000 people. The rapid rise in heroin overdose deaths follows nearly two decades of increasing drug overdose deaths in the United States, primarily driven by deaths from opioid pain relievers.
By comparison, the death rate from opioid pain reliever overdose declined from 6.0 per 100,000 in 2010 to 5.6 per 100,000 people in 2012.
· From 2010-2012, the overall heroin death rate across the 28 states, representing 56 percent of the U.S. population, doubled.
· The sharp heroin overdose increase extends the trend observed in the 2011 national mortality data.
· Five states had increases in prescription opioid death rates, seven states had decreases, and 16 states had no change.
· Of the 18 states with reliable heroin overdose death rates examined individually in this study, 15 had statistically significant increases in heroin death rates. No state had a decrease in the heroin death rate.
· The increases in state heroin death rates from 2010-2012 were associated with increases in prescription opioid death rates.