As Opioid Prescriptions Drop, Addicts Switch to Street Drugs With Deadly Consequences
While opioid prescriptions have declined due to aggressive government regulations and shutting down pill mills, heroin related overdoses have skyrocketed.
As reported by the Washington Post, research from the American Action Forum shows that as authorities cracked down on the overprescribing of powerful painkillers, international cartels filled the void with cheap heroin and powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
The number of opioids prescribed nationwide sharply dropped in 2010, as did the death rate from prescription-opioid overdoses. The annual growth rate of deaths involving prescription opioids slowed from 13.4 percent before 2010 to 4.8 percent after. This came after authorities went after pill mills and rogue doctors, states began implementing prescription drug monitoring programs and Purdue Pharma released a reformulated version of the painkiller OxyContin that was more difficult to crush and thus more difficult to abuse, though some users found ways around it.
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More than 42,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase in deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl has been staggering: From 2013 to 2016, the number of deaths involving these substances grew 84.2 percent each year, according an analysis of CDC data.
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To learn more about the devastating rise in heroin and synthetic opioid overdoses, please visit the Washington Post.