On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 25% of U.S. drug overdoses in 2015 were related to heroin. Additionally, researchers discovered the rate of fatal drug overdoses has doubled since 1999. The alarming statistics continued — since 1999, the rate of fatal drug overdoses has risen from 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people to 16.3 deaths per people 100,000 in 2015.
The primary focus of the report was heroin use, which has steadily increased over the past 15 years. In 1999, the percentage of drug overdoses related to heroin use was 8%, but the new 25% statistic more than triples its predecessor. More than 33,000 people died from opioids in 2015, and the CDC noted nearly 500,000 people between 2000 to 2015 have suffered related deaths.
Opioid use has become a major issue in the country with life expectancy taking a hit. Andrew Kolodny of the Brandeis University Opioid Policy Research Center told CNN that the increase in deaths may be due to synthetic drugs:
“Starting in 2011, overdoses involving heroin has really skyrocketed. There’s a really good chance the increase involving heroin has to be involved with fentanyl.”
Deaths from fentanyl (a synthetic opioid) have increased from accounting for 8 percent (of all overdoses) in 2010 to 18 percent in 2015.