CDC: Opioid abuse propels record US deaths from overdose

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CDC Says More People Are Dying of Drug Overdoses Than Ever Before

U.S. deaths from drug overdoses hit a record high in 2014, propelled by abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

Drug overdoses increased 6.5 percent in 2014 from a year earlier, killing 47,055 people. The highest rates of death from overdose were seen in West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio, the CDC report said.

SEE ALSO: One type of legal drug is killing far more people than heroin

Deaths from opioids such as prescription pain killers and heroin accounted for 61 percent of overdose deaths and increased 14 percent in 2014, the CDC said.

"The increasing number of deaths from opioid overdose is alarming," CDC Director Tom Frieden said Friday in a statement. "The opioid epidemic is devastating American families and communities."

Since 2000, deaths overall from drug overdoses have increased 137 percent while those from opioids have jumped 200 percent, the agency said. Half a million people in the United States have died from drug overdoses since 2000, according to the CDC.

Deaths from prescription painkillers have been increasing for 15 years and there has been a recent surge in heroin-related deaths, tripling in the last four years, the CDC said.

Lower heroin prices, wider availability and higher purity are causing more overdoses, the agency reported. It recommends stricter guidelines for prescribing pain killers, expanded availability and wider access to naloxone, an antidote for opioid-related overdoses.

See more from the heroin epidemic:

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CDC: Opioid abuse propels record US deaths from overdose
In this May 13, 2015 photo, the contents of a drug overdose rescue kit is seen at a training session in Buffalo, N.Y., on how to administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin and prescription painkillers. The kits are being provided to community members in Erie County who seek training in how to recognize a potential drug overdose and administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin and prescription painkillers. New York and other states have been equipping lay people, as well first responders and families of addicts, with naloxone in an effort to increase the chances it will be there when needed. (AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson)
In Thursday, July 30, 2015 photo Ryan Kinsella poses outside his bicycle repair business in Penobscot, Maine. Kinsella broke his back in a rock climbing accident in 2002. The accident left him with partially paralyzed legs. He is recovering from a long battle with hepatitis C., which he contracted by sharing IV drug needles. The rise of cheap heroin has brought a rise in hepatitis C. Perhaps nowhere is the problem starker than in Downeast Maine, which has the highest hepatitis C rate in a state with quintuple the national average. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
An anti-narcotics agent walks over seized drugs as the narcotics are prepared to be burned in Panama City, Thursday, July 23, 2015. According to authorites, they incinerated six tons of drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and heroin, all seized within the last month. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
This April 28, 2015, photo provided by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office shows a portion of recently confiscated heroin. Authorities in Philadelphia say a drug probe led to the confiscation of 22 pounds of heroin with a street value of $3.3 million. (Philadelphia District Attorney's Office via AP)
This Wednesday, June 10, 2015 photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, packages of hard drugs are seen in the rear driver side quarter panel of a car carrying more than $377,000 worth of heroin and methamphetamine, seized at the U.S.-Mexico border port of entry in Nogales, Ariz. Authorities are reporting an alarming increase in the number of methamphetamine seizures at border ports of entry. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP)
In this Jan. 27, 2015 photo, a dead poppy flower stands out after the government aerially sprayed the poppy field with a herbicide in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains of Guerrero state, Mexico. A community leader said the aerial spraying "poisons the land, the water, and the people and animals who use the water. It's okay if the government wants to combat these crops, but they should do it manually, on the ground, rather than with aerial spraying." (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
This April 28, 2015, photo provided by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office shows a portion of recently confiscated heroin. Authorities in Philadelphia say a drug probe led to the confiscation of 22 pounds of heroin with a street value of $3.3 million. (Philadelphia District Attorney's Office via AP)
A firearm and 154 pounds of heroin worth at least $50 million are displayed at a Drug Enforcement Administration news conference, Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in New York. The DEA called the heroin seizure its largest ever in New York state. Officials said on Tuesday that most of the drugs were found in an SUV in the Bronx following a wiretap investigation. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
This Tuesday, April 7, 2015 photo provided by the FBI shows seized guns displayed during a news conference in Santa Maria, Calif. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller says that agents and local law enforcement officers raided houses Tuesday, April 7, 2015, morning and made arrests in the Santa Maria area related to a federal indictment. The indictment charges five members of a family and seven others with selling heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. The 17-count indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court says they sold some drugs to informants working with federal agents. (AP Photo/FBI)
In this March 2, 2015 photo, Alicia Gibbons holds an empty bottle of naloxone that she used to save the life of her daughter Ashley at their home in Mays Landing, N.J. Officials across the country are agreeing that it makes sense to hand out the antidote to police, families of addicts and drug users themselves but price of naloxone, sold in the U.S. under the brand name Narcan, has doubled in the past year. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
This photo taken Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, and provided by Delaware State Police, shows what they say are 15,000 packets heroin found in the car of Davon Tucker, of Paterson, N.J., during a traffic stop in Milton, Del. (AP Photo/Delaware State Police)
In this Friday, Dec. 5, 2014 photo, powder flies as an anti-narcotics agent hacks open a package of cocaine with a machete before it's burned on the outskirts of Panama City. According to police, they'll destroy on Friday just over 11 tons of cocaine, marijuana and heroin, seized within the last three months. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
An anti-narcotics agent holds a machete as he prepares to hack open packages of cocaine before they're burned on the outskirts of Panama City, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. According to police, on Friday they'll destroy just over 11 tons of cocaine, marijuana and heroin, seized within the last three months. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
An anti-narcotics agent sprays gasoline on seized drugs to be burned on the outskirts of Panama City, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014. According to police, on Friday they'll destroy just over 11 tons of cocaine, marijuana and heroin, seized within the last three months. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
Criminal experts display glasses filled with heroin at the headquarters of the federal police in Wiesbaden, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. German authorities have seized 330 kilograms (728 pounds) of heroin worth an estimated 50 million euros (US$63 million) that smugglers brought to Europe hidden in a shipment of cucumbers and garlic from Iran. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
A city employee organizes bags of seized cocaine to be destroyed at a police base in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Police say they burned on Tuesday more than 11 tons of drugs including cocaine, marijuana, opium and heroin that was seized over the last 5 months. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
EMBARGOED UNTIL 3 AM APRIL 28--Syringes are packaged at Boom Health center for distribution to drug addicted users, Friday April 25, 2014 in Bronx, N.Y. New York lawmakers are putting forward a package of legislation that seeks to fight the resurgence of heroin with tougher penalties for dealers, more funding for overdose-reversal drugs and increased insurance coverage for treatment. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
PORTLAND, ME - AUGUST 3: Peppermint Park in Portland Tuesday, August 3, 2015. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
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