Study: States Might Be Undercounting Opioid Deaths by as Much as 70,000

Researchers suggest state health officials might be “greatly underestimating” the opioid crisis, finding a possible 70,000 uncounted deaths since 1999. Many opioid overdose victims are getting lost in the official count due to incomplete cause-of-death reports. Unspecified drug-overdose deaths jumped from 2,255 in 1999 to 29,383 in 2015, an increase of 220 percent. Overall, unintentional drug overdoses killed 438,607 people between 1999 and 2015. Over this period, deaths linked to opioids experienced a 401-percent increase, while non-opioid related overdose deaths increased by 150 percent. Researchers used the proportion of opioid-linked deaths among the overall population of drug deaths to estimate how many fatalities listed as “unspecified” could be tied to opioids. This as reports that global opium and cocaine production has never been higher.
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