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