Heroin overdose deaths increased 39 percent from 2012 to 2013, a new government report finds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced 8,257 Americans died of a heroin overdose in 2013, according to The Huffington Post.
The CDC found a 6 percent overall increase in all drug poisoning deaths from 2012 to 2013, to 43,982 deaths. There was a 1 percent increase in prescription opioid deaths during the same year. Deaths involving cocaine increased 12 percent.
"These results demonstrate that while the Administration's efforts to curb the epidemic of the nonmedical use of prescription drugs is working, much more work is needed to improve the way we prevent and treat substance use disorders," the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said in a statement.
Attorney General Eric Holder said, "These troubling statistics illustrate a grim reality: that drug, and particularly opioid abuse, represents a growing public health crisis."
Opioid use disorders often begin with a prescription or taking pills from a home medicine cabinet, ONDCP noted. Almost 68 percent of people who begin using prescription drugs non-medically for the first time get the drugs from a family member or friend. Many people who initially abused prescription painkillers shifted to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to obtain, the article notes.
In November, the World Health Organization said that increasing the availability of the opioid-overdose antidote naloxone could prevent more than 20,000 deaths in the United States annually.