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February 2019 (Vol. 3 Issue 12)

Opioid toll rises as suicides and drug deaths double
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

Opioid toll rises as suicides and drug deaths double image

The devastation caused by the opioid drug scandal continues to unfold. Now it's been discovered that the painkiller has been responsible for doubling the rate of suicides and drug-related deaths in the US.

In 2017, 110,749 Americans killed themselves or died from an unintentional drug overdose compared to 41,364 similar deaths in 2000.

Researchers at the University of Michigan say that opioids are a "key contributor" to the steep rise, responsible for at least 41 per cent of the deaths, compared to just 17 per cent of the deaths 17 years ago.

They say the increase calls for greater care for those on high doses of opioids or are showing signs of prescription misuse. Doctors should also be looking to reduce opioid doses, and make support teams and families aware of another drug, naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.


References

(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2019; 380: 71)

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