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OD’s kill 50,000-plus in U.S.





The country’s out-of-control problem with addiction to heroin and prescription drugs has resulted in scenes like this one becoming all too common for police and emergency medical personnel. In this recent photo provided by the Town of Hope Police Department in Indiana, Erika Hurt sits in front with her baby in the back seat of a car in Hope. Police said she appeared unresponsive from an overdose and had a syringe in her hand. While Ms. Hurt was able to be saved from death, when more than 50,000 Americans died of overdose deaths in 2015, according to new government statistics. (Town of Hope Police Department via AP)

The country’s out-of-control problem with addiction to heroin and prescription drugs has resulted in scenes like this one becoming all too common for police and emergency medical personnel. In this recent photo provided by the Town of Hope Police Department in Indiana, Erika Hurt sits in front with her baby in the back seat of a car in Hope. Police said she appeared unresponsive from an overdose and had a syringe in her hand. While Ms. Hurt was able to be saved from death, when more than 50,000 Americans died of overdose deaths in 2015, according to new government statistics. (Town of Hope Police Department via AP)

NEW YORK

More than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the most ever .

Th e disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids.

Heroin deaths rose 23 percent in one year, to 12,989, slightly higher than the number of gun homicides, according to new government data.

Deaths from synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl, rose 73 percent to 9,580. And prescription painkillers took the highest toll, but posted the smallest increase. Abuse of drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin killed 17,536, an increase of 4 percent.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this. Certainly not in modern times,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees death statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new numbers were part of the agency’s annual tally of deaths and death rates in 2015.

Overall, overdose deaths rose 11 percent last year, to 52,404. By comparison, the number of people who died in car crashes was 37,757, an increase of 12 percent. Gun deaths, including homicides and suicides, totaled 36,252, up 7 percent.

As part of its annual report the CDC also found that rates for 8 of the 10 leading causes of death rose last year, causing the nation’s life expectancy to go down for the first time in more than 20 years.


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