High Risk for Prescription Opioid, Heroin Overdose in Baby Boomer Generation

HealthDay News — Individuals born between 1947 and 1964 have a significantly increased risk for prescription opioid overdose death and heroin overdose death, and those born from 1979 to 1992 also have an increased risk for heroin overdose death, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

Xiwen Huang, MPH, from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues used data from the National Center for Health Statistics’ multiple cause-of-death file for 1999 to 2014 to perform an age-period-cohort analysis of drug overdose mortality.

The researchers found that individuals born between 1947 and 1964 experienced excess risks for prescription opioid overdose death compared with those born in 1977 and 1978 (e.g., rate ratio, 1.27 for the 1955 to 1956 birth cohort); they also had excess risk for heroin overdose death (e.g., rate ratio, 1.32 for the 1953 to 1954 birth cohort). 

The risk for heroin overdose death was also increased for those born between 1979 and 1992 (eg, rate ratio, 1.23 for the 1989 to 1990 birth cohort). Consistent effects were seen between the sexes.

“Individuals born between 1947 and 1964 and between 1979 and 1992 are particularly afflicted by the opioid epidemic,” the authors write. “Intervention programs are needed to reduce the excess overdose mortality in these specific demographic groups.”

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Huang X, Keyes KM, Li G. Increasing prescription opioid and heroin overdose mortality in the United States, 1999-2014: an age-period-cohort analysis [published online December 6, 2017]. Am J Pub Health. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.304142