More than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the highest figure ever and a sure sign the ‘war on drugs’ is being lost. The disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, especially fentanyl.
Heroin deaths rose 23 percent in a year, to 12,989, slightly higher than the number of gun homicides, according to government data released yesterday. The total number of gun deaths – which included suicides and accidents, rose seven percent to 36,252. It comes only days after another report which showed fentanyl, a synthetic opiate which is 40 times stronger than heroin, has become the largest drug threat to the United States, and causes 44 deaths every day. Deaths from fentanyl rose 73 percent to 9,580. Overdoses – often accidental – of Oxycontin and Vicodin killed 17,536, an increase of four percent.