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US drug overdose deaths involve over 80% of opioids

By Ishika Sahni


In the US, Drug overdose deaths raised in 2019 following a small decrease from 2017 to 2018, suggests provisional evaluate. Researchers found that as 81.5% of drug overdose deaths connected with opioids, which are a class of drugs applied to decrease pain, almost 85% of overdose deaths implicated illegally manufactured cocaine, heroin, fentanyl or methamphetamine, either alone or in combination. Likewise, mental health diagnoses were registered in 25.8% of opioid overdose deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The analysis also shows that beyond 3 out of 5 overdose deaths (62.7%) implied at least one possible opportunity to link people to care before an overdose or to carry out life-saving actions when an overdose has taken place. These opportunities can be targeted to both avoid overdoses and an enhanced reaction to overdoses to avoid deaths suggests the team.

Nearly, one in 10 opioid overdose deaths had proof of past-month institutional (such as jails/prisons, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, psychiatric hospitals) release (10.7% with stimulants, 10.8% without stimulants) or previous overdose (10.9%, 12.1%). Between all the people who died of a drug overdose, one quarter had a registered mental health diagnosis.

Experts say that improved coordination of treatment for people with both mental health and substance use disorders may help lower drug overdose deaths. Proof of present or past substance use disorder treatment was more common amongst opioid overdose deaths (18.6% with stimulants, 19.1% without stimulants) than nonopioid overdose deaths (less than 10%). Through overdose deaths, 37% happened with a bystander present.

Overdose deaths were combined by opioid and incentive association into four mutually absolute categories, which involves opioids without stimulants, opioids and stimulants, stimulants without opioids, and neither opioids nor stimulants. A total of 25 jurisdictions reported 16,236 overdose deaths throughout January-June 2019. Between these, 7,936 (48.9%) included opioids without stimulants, 5,301 (32.6%) involved opioids and stimulants, 2,056 (12.7%) involved stimulants without opioids, and 943 (5.8%) involved neither opioids nor stimulants.

The researchers discovered that nearly all overdose deaths (83.8%) implied one or more of four illegal drugs: illegally manufactured fentanyls (61.5%), cocaine (28.3%), heroin (28.2%) or methamphetamine (17.6%). Almost one half (49.8%) of these deaths implied two or more of those drugs. IMFs were involved in 80.4% of opioid overdose deaths with incentives and 72.2% without incentives.


The authors suggest that aiming critical opportunities for interference with evidence-based overdose avoidance programs can help reverse the growth in drug overdose deaths. Interference to decrease overdose deaths including illicit opioids and impetus, specifically IMFs, is desired and must be complemented by efforts to avoid initiation of prescription drug misuse and illicit drug use, they clarify.


According to the research team, co-use of opioids and impetus raises deadly overdose risk and is affiliated with poorer medical, mental health and substance use disorder treatment results. They advise that supporting high access to medications for opioid use disorder and proof-based treatments for stimulant use disorders can help moderate risks.


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