Overdose deaths in United States hit record high in 2017

Report finds rapid rise in deaths

By Karen Drew - Reporter/Anchor, Kayla Clarke

WASHINGTON - There are startling numbers in our nation's battle against the opioid epidemic as a new report finds a rapid rise in drug overdoses among women -- and very often the medications are coming from doctors.

A staggering number of American women are dying of drug overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting the overdose death rate among middle-aged women has risen more than 260 percent since 1999.

"Nobody intends to become addicted when they start using," Dr. Michael Lynch, with the Pittsburgh Poison Center, said.

Drug-related fatalities often involve a mixture of medications and when researchers looked closer they found overdoses that included prescription painkillers rose 485 percent.

Overdoses that included heroin were up 915 percent. Overdoses that included use of antidepressants were up 176 percent and overdoses that involved drugs like Xanax and Valium were up 830 percent.

Doctors stress the importance of treating anxiety, depression and chronic pain and talking openly with doctors about treatment options.

"Continuously reassess where you are with your medication treatment. Is it working? Do the risks outweigh the benefits? And is there another avenue that we should be taking?" Lynch said.

The CDC analyzed death certificates from all 50 states in their report. Overdose drug deaths hit a record high in 2017, killing more than 70,000 men and women.

View: Full NCHS Data Brief

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