Overdoses Related to Heroin Tripled in Three-Year Period

HealthDay News — The age-adjusted rate for deaths involving opioid analgesics has leveled in recent years; however, the rate for deaths involving heroin has almost tripled since 2010, U.S. health officials reported Wednesday.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reports that between 2000 and 2013, the age-adjusted rate for overdose deaths involving heroin nearly quadrupled, rising from 0.7 deaths per 100,000 Americans in 2000 to 2.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2013. 

The CDC researchers found that most of the increase in heroin deaths occurred recently — between 2010 and 2013. During that time, the United States experienced a 37 percent-per-year increase in heroin deaths.

While heroin deaths have soared, the death rates related to prescription narcotics have declined slightly, from 5.4 per 100,000 in 2010 to 5.1 per 100,000 in 2013, officials with the CDC said. 

The racial and ethnic background of people dying from heroin overdose also has shifted. Blacks 45 to 64 were the group most likely to die from a heroin overdose in 2000. Today, whites 18 to 44 have the highest death rate from heroin abuse. The researchers also found that men were nearly four times as likely as women to die from a heroin overdose.

CDC officials reported that the greatest increase in heroin deaths between 2000 and 2013 occurred in the Midwest, which experienced a nearly 11-fold leap in fatal overdoses. The overdose rate quadrupled in the Northeast during that period, as heroin use trickled out of urban areas like Baltimore and New York City into the rural New England states.


1. CDC. NCHS Data Brief. 2015. 190.