drug overdoses

For the second time in three years, life expectancy in the U.S. has ticked downward. In three reports issued Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laid out a series of statistics that revealed some troubling trend lines — including rapidly increasing rates of death from drug overdoses and suicide.

CDC Director Robert Redfield described the data as "troubling."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Flickr Creative Commons

The head of the nation's top public health agency says the opioid epidemic will be one of his priorities, and he revealed a personal reason for it: His son almost died from taking cocaine contaminated with the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

Staying Alive: How To Fight An Opioid Addiction

Apr 2, 2018
Caitlin Hillyard/KHN

Rule No. 1: Stay alive.

If you or a loved one wants to beat an opioid addiction, first make sure you have a handy supply of naloxone, a medication that can reverse an overdose and save your life.

“Friends and families need to keep naloxone with them,” says Dr. David Kan, an addiction medicine specialist in Walnut Creek who is president of the California Society of Addiction Medicine. “People using opioids should keep it with them, too.”

Jake Harper/Side Effects Public Media

In a refrigerator in the coroner’s office in Marion County, Ind., rows of vials await testing. They contain blood, urine and vitreous, the fluid collected from inside a human eye.

University of Washington Health

For more than 40 years, there’s been a drug that can stop a heroin overdose in its tracks, if someone gives the drug in time.  

And it turns out that the same drug works for patients who overdose on prescription painkillers such as morphine or OxyContin --drugs called opiods because they mimic the action of opium.

Patient advocates say many deaths from accidental overdoses of prescription painkillers or heroin could be averted simply and at little expense if there were wider distribution of a drug the drug called nalaxone,  or its better known brand name of Narcan.

  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is applauding Florida’s crackdown on “pill mills” in its most recent Vital Signs report.

Prescription drug deaths decreased during the first half of 2013 compared to the same period the year before.

The report released Thursday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Attorney General Pam Bondi showed that the most significant drop in prescription drug deaths was in those caused by oxycodone and alprazolam.

Combined, the two drugs caused 731 deaths in the first half of 2012. That was reduced to 548 deaths in the first half of last year.

It may be time to change the benchmark for discussion of public health problems in the U.S.

For quite a while, the annual number of fatalities from auto accidents has been a kind of shorthand for health issues that are big and important.

Starting in 2009, though, suicides surpassed deaths from crashes. In 2010, there were about 38,000 suicides compared with about 35,000 deaths from motor vehicle crashes.