Heroin Overdose Deaths Jump 39% Between 2012 and 2013

By Victoria Kim 01/16/15

Despite new tactics, including the wider use of naloxone, heroin-related overdoses have skyrocketed.

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As states crack down on illegal prescription drugs and users switch to its cheaper substitute, heroin, it's not surprising that heroin-related overdose deaths are suddenly on the rise.

According to data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin-related overdose deaths rose 39% in 2013 from the previous year. The number rose from 5,925 deaths in 2012 to 8,257 deaths in 2013, contributing to an overall 6% rise in drug overdose deaths, according to the CDC.

“These troubling statistics illustrate a grim reality: that drug, and particularly opioid abuse, represents a growing public health crisis,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

Last year, the United Nations World Health Organization reported that each year nearly 70,000 people die from opioid overdose, which include heroin and prescription opioids. In the United States alone, 16,651 people died from prescription opioid overdose in 2010.

The WHO recommended expanded use of the “opioid antidote” naloxone in an effort to reverse the rising trend of opioid overdoses worldwide. Lately, police departments across the country have begun to carry and use naloxone, though local programs still face problems.

"Community-based naloxone distribution programs continue to struggle mightily to be able to afford to do this lifesaving work, while police departments have access to a much larger pot of money," said Meghan Ralston, harm reduction manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Any increase in the number of heroin-involved deaths argues loudly in favor of reforms that help save lives and reduce mortality."

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr