Fatal overdose rates in the USA from narcotic pain medications have tripled in recent years, causing concern among healthcare professionals and law enforcement agencies. In addition the OD rates for heroin have also tripled in number during the same decade. These surprising facts can be found in the recent report released by the CDC. The report does have reason to hope though, because between 2011 and 2012 there was a 5% decrease in the fatal overdose rates of narcotic pain medications. According to CDC epidemiologist Dr. Holly Hedegaard who was one of the report authors “Although the rate [of fatal overdoses] is still increasing, it is not increasing quite as fast as it did between 2000 and 2006. From 1999 to 2006, the rate of deaths increased about 18 percent per year, but since 2006 it’s only increasing about 3 percent per year.”
The fatal overdose rates in the USA from narcotic pain medications are higher in some states than in others. On average the rate was 1.4 OD deaths per 100,000 in population in 1999. In 2012 the average rate for OD deaths from narcotic pain medications was 5.1 per 100,000 in population. States which are hardest hit with this problem include West Virginia, Kentucky, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah. The 5% decline in fatal overdose rates in recent years is the first time that this trend has been seen. Some believe that the decrease is due to an increase in prescription oversight and the release of new FDA guidelines concerning narcotic pain medications.