The latest overdose outbreak shows just how dangerous the heroin epidemic has gotten

From The Washington Post:

 

The Charleston Gazette-Mail is reported that police in Huntington, W.Va., responded to 26 heroin overdose cases in a span of four hours on Monday evening.

To get a sense of the scale of the outbreak, consider this. Huntington is a small city with a population of about 49,000 people, according to the Census Bureau. An overdose outbreak of similar magnitude in New York City (population 8.4 million) would affect more than 4,400 people.

The cases overwhelmed first responders in Huntington. “Every ambulance in the city of Huntington went out in 10 minutes on these overdoses,” Cabell County EMS director Gordon Merry told 13 News. He said all of the overdose victims were able to be revived using naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.

In 2014, West Virginia led the nation in drug poisoning deaths, with 36 for every 100,000 residents. That’s head-and-shoulders above the next-highest state death rate — 28 deaths per 100,000 in New Mexico — and more than double the national rate of 15 deaths per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In terms of both rates and raw numbers, drug overdose deaths have exploded in recent decades. Since 1982, the drug overdose mortality rate has risen by 425 percent, adjusting for population.

They have eclipsed motor vehicle fatalities as a leading cause of death in the U.S., according to a new working paper from Christopher J. Ruhm from the University of Virginia. In 1982, motor vehicle deaths were seven times more common than drug overdose deaths, according to Ruhm’s analysis of CDC data. By 2014, overdose deaths had become considerably more common than vehicle fatalities.

Authorities in Huntington …

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