Tens of Thousands of Opioid Overdose Deaths Uncounted by Officials

Tens of Thousands of Opioid Overdose Deaths Uncounted by Officials
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The opioid epidemic has claimed thousands of American lives each year for many years. However, the situation may be even worse than first anticipated. Based on new research data, at least 70,000 opioid overdose deaths since 1999 were previously misclassified under other causes of death, or due to other substances. Indeed, it appears about 33% of all drug overdose deaths in many states can be linked to opioids by using this updated information.

The most recent report comes from the Public Health Reports (PHR) journals. The findings of this group align with several other research studies, reaffirming the data. To seek opioid overdose deaths more accurately, the researchers looked at International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes and compared them to death records collected by the National Center of Health Statistics.

Using the updated data, it is estimated that more than 438,000 people died from accidental drug overdoses between 1999 and 2015. This amounts to more than 27,000 people per year. Deaths related to opioids, either prescribed or obtained illegally, spiked 400% within the time period studied.

Synthetic Drugs Stand to Worsen the Problem

As harrowing as the statistics over the last 16 years might be, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health organizations are still worried the nation has yet to hit the peak of the opioid epidemic. New synthetic drugs are becoming more and more prevalent on the market, such as fentanyl. Approximately half of all opioid-related fatal overdoses in 2016, or roughly 20,000, involved a synthetic drug like fentanyl.

Not only is fentanyl many times more potent and deadlier than most opiates, it is also shadowed under drug code specifications in death reports. As accidental fentanyl overdoses accrue, it is likely coroner reports will be misled or misclassified, just as previous opioid overdose deaths had been.

(For more information about the reclassification of opioid overdose deaths and the concerning opioid epidemic, click here to view a full article posted by NBC News.)

You Can Fight Opioid Addiction – Call Now!

At Acceptance Recovery Center, we are absolutely committed to empowering our patients and helping them discover their inner strengths. You have the ability to overcome opioid addiction before it further causes serious harm to you, your loved ones, and your career. All you need to do to start down a healthy path to recovery is contact our Scottsdale opiate addiction rehabilitation center today. During a free assessment, we can discuss the unique and individualized methods and programs we can use to treat your addiction.

About Dr. Greg Gale, MD

Dr. Greg Gale has been practicing and providing leadership in the field of psychiatry, substance use, and integrated care in the Phoenix metropolitan area for over 11 years. He joins us from his role as a national medical director overseeing behavioral health, substance use, and integrated care services for Humana Behavioral Health. Previously, he was CMO and VP of Clinical Services at Partners in Recovery, a not-for-profit behavioral health and substance use service organization, which operates five clinics throughout Maricopa County. Read more about Dr. Greg Gale, MD