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The U.S. Has Highest Rate of Drug Deaths In The World, Says UN Report

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The U.S. Has Highest Rate of Drug Deaths In The World, Says UN Report

The United States has the highest rate of drug deaths in the world, according to the new 2017 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report published last month. In this report, data was examined from 2015, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resulted in 52,404 drug deaths. This amount represents nearly one-quarter of global drugs by drugs.

Opioids are mostly to blame. While many countries are affected by these drugs, the U.S. has experienced the most impact. In 2015, prescription painkillers and illicit opiates and opioids collectively were responsible for nearly two-thirds of all deaths in the United States.

The over-prescribing of opioids began the mid-90’s, and their availability has been mostly increasing ever since. Once addicted, sometimes users turn to heroin when they can no longer obtain or afford their drug of choice.

Another big contributor is fentanyl, a potent opioid that has found its way into street drugs. It’s roughly 50 times more powerful than heroin and is often laced with other drugs because it’s inexpensive to make and a little big goes a long way. Unfortunately, coming into contact with fentanyl can kill a person quite easily, and many users don’t know what they are getting.

Also, multiple drug combinations are to blame. People with mood disorders are twice as likely to be prescribed opioids than others, which mean they could end up on a combination of anti-anxiety medication and opioids – a potentially life-threatening cocktail. Sometimes alcohol, muscle relaxers, and sedatives are also added to the mix.

The UNODC report also revealed that 29.5 million people globally suffer from drug use disorder. Also, nearly half of the 12 million users who engaged in intravenous drug use are infected with Hepatitis C and another 1.3 million have HIV.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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