Monday April 23, 2018

US Opioid Crisis : Deaths in 2016 from Drug Overdose ‘Highest in American History’, Says US Attorney General

Sessions said President Donald Trump's campaign pledge to end the opioid crisis remains a priority for his administration

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DRUG OVERDOSE
A bag of 4-fluoroisobutyrylfentanyl, which was seized in a drug arrest, is displayed at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Testing and Research Laboratory in Sterling, Va., Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)(VOA)
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Washington, September 22, 2017 : U.S. deaths from drug overdose set a record of more than 64,000 in 2016, driven by an intractable opioid crisis, U.S. Attorney General said Thursday, citing preliminary government data.

Provisional data released last month by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) showed that there were 64,070 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016, up 21 percent from 52,898 the year before.

The NCHS is an arm of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2016 estimate “would be the highest drug death toll and the fastest increase in that death toll in American history,” Sessions said. “And every day this crisis continues to grow, as more than 5,000 Americans abuse painkillers for the first time.”

Opioids such as heroin and the synthetic drug fentanyl were responsible for most of the fatal overdoses, killing more than 33,000 Americans — quadruple the number from 20 years ago.

drug overdose
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington (VOA)

“More Americans died of drug overdose than died from car crashes or died from AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic,” Sessions said. “For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death.”

Sessions spoke at an event in Charleston, West Virginia, a state with the highest drug overdose rate in the country. In 2015, West Virginia reported more than 41 overdose deaths per 100,000 people, compared with a national average of 16 per 100,000, according to NCHS data.

Sessions said President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to end the opioid crisis remains a priority for his administration.

“I believe that the department’s new resources and new efforts will bring more criminals to justice, and ultimately save lives,” Sessions said. “And I’m convinced this is a winnable war.”

In March, Trump named New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former presidential candidate, to head the newly formed President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

Last month, the commission urged the administration to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency.

“With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” the commission said in an interim report.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said that no declaration was necessary to combat the crisis, but White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said Trump was taking the idea “absolutely seriously.” (VOA)

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EDM party-goers at high opioid dependence risk

Opioid use has grown to epidemic proportions in the US and has been the main contributor to a resurgence of heroin use as well as the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C

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EDM party-goers are more likely to use drugs. IANS
  • EDM party goers are known to use many drugs
  • They also misuse opioids like heroin
  • The dance party goers are always at a higher risk of using drugs

Not just common party drugs like ecstasy, more and more electronic dance music (EDM) party attendees are misusing opioids like heroin, researchers claim.

Opioid use has grown to epidemic proportions in the US and has been the main contributor to a resurgence of heroin use as well as the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C, the team from New York University said.

Drugs, Rehabilitation centre
Party goers are misusing opioids like heroin. Pixabay

“We’ve always known that electronic dance music party attendees are at high risk for use of club drugs such as ecstasy or Molly, but we wanted to know the extent of opioid use in this population,” said Joseph Palamar, Associate Professor at New York University.

“This population of experienced drug users needs to be reached to prevent initiation and continued use, which can lead to riskier and more frequent use, dependence, and deleterious outcomes such as overdose – particularly if opioids are combined with other drugs,” Palamar added.

Also Read: Indonesia’s War on Drugs Follows Philippines’ Infamous Crusade to Curb Drug Use

To reach this conclusion, the researchers surveyed 954 individuals (ages 18 to 40) about to enter EDM parties at nightclubs and dance festivals in New York City. Attendees were asked about the use of 18 different opioids — including OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, codeine, fentanyl and heroin.

Cocaine
these drugs are causing health issues like HIV and hepatitis C. Wikimedia Commons

The researchers found that almost a quarter (23.9 per cent) of EDM party attendees have used opioids non-medically in their lifetime and one out of 10 (9.8 per cent) did so in the past year. IANS