The United States is experiencing a “historic” surge in drug overdose deaths, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new figures from the CDC show that there were 476 overdose deaths from prescription painkillers in 2016, a 4% increase from 2015.
And while drug overdoses are still on the rise in the US, they are far less common than they used to be.
The number of opioid overdoses has dropped from about 4,000 deaths in 2010 to 2,400 in 2016.
The rate of drug overdoses has also decreased from about 13 deaths per 100,000 people in 2010, to 2.6 deaths per person in 2016 — a decrease of more than 3%.
However, drug overdose fatalities continue to rise.
There were 3,622 overdose deaths in 2016 and the number of drug overdose cases increased by 11% over the same period.
“In 2016, there were almost as many drug overdose victims as there were in 2010,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a statement.
“That’s a big increase from the rate of 2.3 in 2010.”
There are a number of reasons for the decline in drug overdoses, according for one.
For one, there are more people using prescription pain medications.
In 2016, prescription drug overdoses were about a third of all drug overdose incidents, compared to about a quarter in 2010.
Drug overdoses also tend to be more common in older Americans, and they are also more likely to be male, poor and white.
Other factors that may contribute to the decline include increased access to prescription pain pills and heroin and methadone maintenance, both of which are less addictive than prescription medications.
However, there have been no official statistics on heroin and methamphetamine overdoses in the United States, which may account for some of the drop in overdose deaths.
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