Study: U.S. opioid deaths likely under-reported

NEW YORK (CNN) – The latest government numbers show that drug overdose deaths in 2016 continued to climb, despite ongoing efforts to stem the overdose epidemic.

The age-adjusted quarterly death rate for drug overdoses increased by more than 20-percent between the first quarter of 2015 and the third quarter of 2016. The majority of those overdoses are from opioids.

Also, new data indicates that the number of opioid-related deaths may be under-reported. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of overdose deaths in the United States rose more than 137-percent. More than half a million people died from drug overdoses during that time.

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According to the CDC, prescription opioids are a driving factor in the increase. Across the country, 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

A new study finds that many opioid-related overdoses are under-reported and the scope of the problem may be much worse.

Researchers found that 20-to-25-percent of overdose death certificates did not have any specific drug listed as a cause, suggesting that estimates could be significantly off.

They believe the death rate from opioids is 24-percent higher than previously estimated.

The study’s lead author says data on drug overdose deaths should be improved so that authorities can better understand the opioid crisis and respond effectively.

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