WASHINGTON (CNN) – Earlier this week, President Obama signed the 21st century cures bill. It boosts federal research and funding for cancer, mental health issues and opioid addiction.
Opioids can be critical for managing extreme pain but can also lead to addiction and deadly overdoses.
In fact, new data from U.S. health authorities show that the number of overdose deaths caused by opioids is rising. The number of overdose deaths caused by opioid drugs rose sharply in 2015. That’s according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Nationwide, more than 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses last year, compared to nearly 29,000 the year before.
There were 9,580 deaths caused specifically by overdoses of synthetic opioids last year. That’s an increase of about 73%. By comparison, deaths attributed to heroin rose by just 23% over the same time period.
The CDC says the United States is in the middle of an opioid overdose epidemic, at least half of all deaths connected to opioid overdoses involve a prescription version of the drug. Drugs are now the leading cause of accidental death in this country.
Fatal overdoses surpassed shooting deaths and traffic accidents years ago.
Health experts say too many people still do not have access to effective substance abuse treatment.
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