The numbers are in, and they aren't good. Between 2014 and 2015, the death rates from synthetic opiates in North Carolina rose over 72 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). First responders in the area have noticed a dramatic uptick in the number of emergency calls their dispatchers have been receiving with regard to opiate overdoses, and this number only confirms that there has indeed been a significant rise in these kinds of cases.
The latest data shows that over 33,000 people died from opiate-related overdoses in 2015. This number includes both opiates that were both prescribed and illegal. This number also accounts for 63 percent of the over 50,000 deaths from drug overdoses in total for 2015. This is a two-percent increase from the number of fatal opiate-related overdoses that occurred the year before. Scarier still is that these numbers include people of all age ranges, including kids as young as 15 years old.
During that same period, the number of heroin-related deaths increased as well – to over 20 percent. Eleven states reported an increase in the number of heroin-related deaths in their area, with North and South Carolina and Tennessee seeing the biggest numbers. Synthetic opioid-related deaths increased as well in 16 states during this time. New York felt the biggest impact, with their synthetic opioid-related deaths increasing over 135 percent between 2014 and 2015.
The total number of synthetic opioid-related deaths in Connecticut and Illinois were incredibly high as well, with the former seeing a nearly 126 percent increase, and the latter experiencing a 120 percent increase. Take all of these numbers into account collectively, and that signals an incredibly urgent problem that must be dealt with sooner than later.
Deaths related to opioids that are considered "natural" opioids, such as morphine and codeine, as well as those attributed to semi-synthetic opioids, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, have actually been on the decline, decreasing about 2.5 percent between 2014 and 2015.
However, just because they're on the decline doesn't mean the problem has gone away. These drugs were still responsible for nearly 13,000 deaths during this period. Fatalities related to methadone are also down, dropping about nine percent during this time frame. Methadone is a drug that is used to treat heroin addiction.
Along with the report, the CDC issued a statement that said, in part, that "the continued problem with misuse of prescription opioids and the substantial impact of illicit opioids on [the widespread] epidemic" are further illustrated by this report. As a result, the CDC reinforced the fact that law enforcement and health officials really need to band together in order to fight this epidemic and perhaps get it under some form of control.
It is crucial for the public to be aware of the signs of an overdose so that they can take the person affected to the hospital as soon as possible in an attempt to save that person's life. For instance, opioid overdose symptoms include shallow breathing, confusion, and a lessened sense of alertness before the person ultimately loses consciousness.