Thousands of people in the United States die each year from using medications they need for health problems. Some of these drugs include opioids, which are used to treat pain. Others include antidepressants, which are used to control emotional issues.
Whether a healthcare professional or a concerned citizen, you’re probably wondering how many people in the U.S. die yearly from prescription opioids. This is a complex topic, with various factors contributing to the epidemic. Several of these factors include:
- The individual’s personal history.
- The length of time the individual has used the drug.
- The environmental factors that influence their use.
The number of deaths from opioid overdoses has exploded, from fewer than ten thousand in 2000 to more than eighty thousand in 2017. The rate of extinction has more than doubled in the past six years. This major public health crisis costs tens of billions of dollars annually. It has also led to increased rates of HIV and hepatitis C.
As the epidemic escalates, policymakers seek new solutions to combat it. This includes limiting the number of opioids that can be prescribed and increasing access to treatment. In addition, President Trump has signed legislation to expand research into alternative pain medications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released provisional data showing that the opioid-related overdose death rate in the U.S. increased to 32.6 per 100,000 in 2021. The death rate has remained relatively stable among genders and races, except Hispanics.
The CDC estimates that more than 700,000 people in the United States will die from opioid overdose between 2016 and 2025. These figures are nearly 30 percent higher than the figures in 2019.
The number of people who misused prescription opioids in the United States was approximately fifty percent. The majority of these misusers got their prescriptions from friends or family.
Other synthetic opioids
Thousands of people die yearly in the U.S. from medications used to treat other synthetic opioids. This is part of the ongoing opioid crisis that has become a national security concern.
The United States is home to one of the largest opioid epidemics in the world, and it is affecting millions of Americans. As a result, federal and state policymakers have implemented strict restrictions on the supply of opioid medications. In some cases, the government has even limited the number of prescriptions that physicians may prescribe.
The crisis grew dramatically in recent years, as the availability of cheap heroin and synthetic opioids drove the number of overdose deaths to unprecedented levels. Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is fifty times more potent than heroin. It relieves pain but can also be mixed with other drugs to enhance their effects. It is also often prescribed along with alcohol, which increases the risk of overdose.
The number of overdoses from opioids in the U.S. has increased sixfold since 1999. In 2019, the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System estimated that 91,799 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. However, the total number of overdoses is likely much higher, as it is not always clear which drug was involved in the death.
The United States fentanyl overdose rate rose nearly sixfold between 2015 and 2020. This was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the crisis. The majority of overdose deaths occurred in this category. In 2020, the fentanyl category accounted for 53,480 preventable deaths.
The number of deaths from opioids in the United States is expected to continue to increase. It is predicted that opioids will cause three-quarters of all overdoses in 2020.
Using opioids has become a public health crisis. They are used for various purposes, but many people have died from misusing these drugs. They can be purchased online, on social media, or on the dark web.
The number of overdose deaths in the United States has risen dramatically over the past few years. The average overdose deaths involving opioids rose nearly 70% between 2015 and 2020. This is primarily attributed to a significant increase in the use of synthetic opioids. The influx of these drugs into the U.S. led to the rise in heroin use.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its first provisional data on overdose deaths through the end of 2020. The agency estimates that over 92,000 Americans will die from drug overdoses in 2020. That’s about 20,000 more than in 2019, the highest annual number of overdose deaths since 1999.
The most significant increases were seen among Black men and women. In 2020, 54.1 overdose deaths occurred for every 100,000 Black men, compared to just over 47 for every 100,000 White men. These figures represent the first time Black men have surpassed White men in overdose death rates.
For all other major groups, death rates have been slower to rise. For example, while the overdose death rate for Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander men jumped by 69%, the overdose death rate for Black and white men increased by only 33%.
These increases aren’t a complete reflection of the opioid crisis. They are partially attributable to synthetic opioids and cocaine.
Unlike in the past, most opioid overdoses involve synthetic opioids. Fentanyl-adulterated heroin and cocaine are now readily available in the U.S. These drugs are often combined with other stimulants.
Approximately one in ten Americans take antidepressants. These medications effectively treat depression and other mental illnesses but may also pose serious health risks. They can interfere with the normal physiology of the brain, disrupting evolutionary-ancient biochemicals. These include serotonin, a chemical that is essential for mood and memory.
A study conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Canada found a link between antidepressant use and mortality. They studied a database of deaths in which drugs from the class were mentioned. They found that more prescriptions for TCAs (tricyclics) were associated with a higher suicide rate. They also found that SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, were associated with a lower death rate.
Antidepressant drugs were implicated in about 20 to 30 percent of non-fatal overdoses. Some more common antidepressants include citalopram, paroxetine, fluoxetine, and venlafaxine. They were also used in combination with synthetic opioids and benzodiazepines.
Researchers were able to analyze 468 drug-related fatalities. These cases were investigated from the National Programme of Substance Abuse Deaths (np-SAD) database. These data included death certificates from coroners in England and Wales. These were combined with other statistics such as age, race, income, and county-to-county differences in suicide rates.
The team of investigators examined 16 studies that involved 375,000 participants. The cases were selected because they were related to a specific antidepressant and included at least one prescription. They compared the proportions of these cases to the expected proportions of the population.
The authors believe that the number of deaths caused by antidepressants is likely underestimated. They suggest that psychiatrists prescribe cautiously to patients suffering from depression or addiction. They also caution that the long-term effects of these medicines are uncertain.
Polypharmacy in older people
Several studies have shown that polypharmacy, or the use of multiple drugs, is associated with harmful health outcomes. These include adverse drug events, falls, and mortality.
Polypharmacy is most common among the elderly. It is defined as the concurrent use of at least five medications. Different studies have different levels of drugs required to meet the threshold. The reference category ranges from 0 to 1 medicine to fewer than ten medications.
In the current study, researchers investigated the association between different levels of polypharmacy and mortality. They assessed hazard ratios (H.R.s) for all-cause and cause-specific mortality.
For all-cause mortality, polypharmacy showed a higher risk of death than no medication. It also had a higher H.R. for cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths. However, the association was not influenced by geographic location or study design.
In the study, 11 of 13 case-control studies and 10 of 13 cohort studies were considered high quality. The quality of the studies was judged using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS).
Polypharmacy is associated with various adverse health outcomes, including death and hospitalization. It is especially harmful to older adults who have chronic conditions. A significant concern is that these medicines may become ineffective due to interactions with other drugs or diseases.
The results of the present study suggest that polypharmacy may be a marker of frailty and general vulnerability to poor outcomes. Clinicians should be aware of all of the medicines that a patient is taking. They should also consider the potential impact of polypharmacy on medication adherence and overall health.
Polypharmacy is particularly harmful to cancer patients. Approximately ninety percent of cancer patients report taking at least one drug.