US Heroin-linked deaths surge 39 percent in 2013
US opioid overdose deaths linked to heroin jumped 39 percent in 2013 from the year before, in a context where users of prescription painkillers switched to the cheaper, illicit street drug.12 Jan 2015
Overdose deaths linked to heroin jumped 39 percent in 2013 from the year before, according to data released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said 8,257 people died of heroin-related deaths in 2013, compared with 5,925 deaths in 2012. The number of overdose deaths overall increased to 43,982 from 41,340.
Many more Americans die from prescription opioids. But the rise in fatal heroin overdoses came as users of prescription painkillers switched to the cheaper, illicit street drug. The heroin deaths contributed to an overall 6 percent jump in drug overdose deaths in 2013 from 2012.
"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.
As states cracked down on the illicit use of prescription painkillers in the 2000s, many users shifted to heroin, which sells for a fraction of the cost. The February 2014 death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a mix of heroin, cocaine, and other drugs dramatized the shift. Deaths from heroin are often also associated with other drugs.