By: Kiyoshi Ohara, Bloomberg The death toll from opioid overdoses reached a record high in 2017.
A report from Harvard’s Prevention R& Research Center found that the number of deaths among opioid users in the United States has risen by over 40 percent in the last decade, with the number increasing by nearly 1.2 million people per year in 2017 alone.
Overdose deaths are rising because of two main reasons: rising opioid prices and the availability of opioids to doctors and the public.
The price of prescription painkillers, which are typically much cheaper than prescription opioids, is also up dramatically, and more Americans are using them than ever before.
That means that there are more people dying from overdoses than ever, with over one in five Americans now using opioid painkillers.
The number of opioid-related deaths in the U.S. jumped nearly 2,500 percent in 2016.
But this year, the report says, the rate of increase has accelerated dramatically, as more people are being prescribed painkillers by doctors, and the demand for them is outstripping supply.
The opioid epidemic has also driven an increase in opioid prescriptions, which is contributing to the increased death toll.
The report says that the opioid epidemic is the most severe since the 1970s, when the number one cause of death for Americans aged 65 and older was motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Over the last 10 years, the number has nearly doubled.
The increase is largely attributable to a surge in the number and use of prescription opioids.
“The price of opioids has increased so much that doctors are prescribing them more,” said Dr. Robert Siegel, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard Medical College and one of the authors of the report.
“This has led to more opioid prescribing and increased the number using opioids.”
In fact, the prescription of opioids by doctors is up about 10,000 percent since 2016, according the report, which looked at data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the U-S Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers to Prevent and Treat Disease.
The rise in opioid use in the past decade, particularly among the older generation, has driven the increase in overdose deaths, the researchers say.
And although prescription opioids are often prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, including chronic pain, obesity and cancer, the vast majority of patients are prescribed opioids for chronic pain.
That includes many older adults, who are disproportionately at risk for opioid addiction.
The data shows that painkiller abuse is growing among older adults because of their use of opioids, according an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health.
“It’s clear that the use of opioid pain relievers has increased dramatically,” said J. Scott Lichtman, the director of the Prevention Research Program at Harvard’s Health Policy Institute.
“We’re not seeing the decline in opioid addiction that we had in the early 1990s.”
In 2016, opioid-use-related overdose deaths rose in all 50 states, with about 3,000 more deaths reported each day in New York and Ohio than the year before.
But those increases have slowed considerably, with only a handful of states reporting increases this year.
The rate of overdose deaths in 2017 was up by about 1,600 per 100,000 people, according a tally compiled by the Harvard report.
The numbers don’t include deaths from overdose caused by other drugs, such as prescription opioids or illicit substances.
The researchers said they were particularly concerned by the rise in prescription painkiller prescriptions, as those prescriptions represent more than half of all opioid-associated overdose deaths.
The study, published online in the journal PLoS One on March 27, found that in 2017, more than 5.3 million prescriptions were written for opioids, more that the total number of prescriptions for all other drugs combined.
That’s about one prescription every 30 seconds.
The majority of prescriptions were for non-opioid drugs, including prescription pain relieves, anti-depressants, cough and cold medicines, and painkillers for pain.
Most were prescribed to women, the authors say, and they found a large gender disparity.
The authors found that among women, prescription pain killers were the most common opioid-based pain reliever, followed by non-prescription opioid pain relief and cough medicines.
“Women have the most pain relief medications and they have the highest use of these medications,” said Elizabeth Dolan, a senior policy analyst at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“These are the medications women need most to control their pain.”
Women are much more likely to be prescribed painkiller painkillers than men.
In 2016 and 2017, about 7 percent of the total opioid prescriptions in the US were written to women.
That figure rose to 10 percent in 2017 and 11 percent in 2018.
Women also accounted for a much larger percentage of prescriptions than men for painkillers that included prescription pain suppressants and opioids for pain management.
The most common type of opioid used by women was