America's drug deaths shifting from West to East - CDC

America's drug deaths shifting from West to East - CDC

In 1999, North and South Dakota were the only states in America with zero deaths from drug overdoses. America’s escalating prescription opioid epidemic had begun a few years earlier, and everywhere else in the country drug deaths were increasing. The highest drug overdose rates in the country at that time were in the West, like California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Washington state. By 2005, North Dakota was still free of even a single recorded drug death. But its partner South Dakota fell victim to the epidemic with 5.5 deaths per 100,000 population. That remote, mainly rural state suffered more overdose deaths than Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming and even New York! By the time America celebrated the arrival of 2015, the whole country was deep in the epidemic of drug deaths. There didn’t appear to be a drug-free state, county, city or town anywhere in the country – even in North Dakota. In fact, in 2015 there were 8.6 deaths per 100,000 in North Dakota, which surpassed South Dakota’s rate of 8.4. Both states were still among the lowest ranked states in 2015, however, and far from the leaders. Some – Kentucky, Ohio and New Hampshire – had death rates higher than 30 per 100,000 in 2015. In West Virginia it was over 40. In 2015, the states with the highest statistical losses of life due to drug overdoses and poisonings of all kinds were Utah, New Mexico, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

Dramatic changes over the years

The full rundown of drug deaths by states shows some rather dramatic changes over the years. By 2005, the drug death epidemic was beginning to move eastward with a vengeance, still mainly driven by prescription opioid painkillers. By 2014 and 2015, California and other western states were declining – except for Utah and New Mexico. These two western states have continued to suffer the worst of it. The most significant increases in drug overdose death rates from 2014 to 2015 have been seen primarily in the Northeast and South. Says the CDC: “States with statistically significant increases in drug overdose death rates from 2014 to 2015 included Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia.” According to the CDC, prescription and illicit opioids continue to be “the main driver of drug overdose deaths.” They were involved in the 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999, says the CDC.

Heroin and fentanyl the new threat

But the prescription opioid painkillers like Percocet, Vicodin and others have, in most areas, been replaced by cheaper street heroin. And the big new threat to life is not so much from the heroin but from more than 100 (and growing almost daily) varieties of the illicit opioid fentanyl that’s being added to it. Dealers everywhere are mixing some variant of fentanyl into their batches of heroin to boost its effects, generally with little or no quality control. Fentanyl is incredibly powerful and deadly – 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. As a result, scores of users are dying every day after shooting up or snorting these deadly mixtures. At Novus, our specialized medical opioid detoxification protocols are helping save lives every day, setting people back on the road to recovery.

If you or someone you care for is at risk because of opioids, whether prescription or illicit, don’t wait – call Novus today. We’re here to help people get their lives back, and we can help you.

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