November 19, 2015 – Early Death


Anchor lead:  Drug use helps account for an uptick in deaths among some middle aged Americans, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Middle aged white Americans are experiencing a rise in death rate, in contrast to those of the same age in other countries, a recent study reported.  One factor that explains some of the rise is an increase in heroin use as well as prescription opiate medications.  Eric Strain, a drug abuse expert at Johns Hopkins, comments.

Strain: We are seeing people who are using both.  One of the interesting questions to wonder about is, is this a transition time?  Where those people who are using both, both prescription opiates and heroin, are going to migrate over to using heroin.  I think that’s going to be a function of whether or not we continue to tighten the prescription of opiates, which we’re doing. We have prescription drug monitoring programs, we’ve got physician education initiatives, that are decreasing the availability of opiates and driving people I think to switch to heroin.   :31

Other factors identified include alcohol use and suicide in this population.  Strain says now targeted interventions must be developed to stem the tide.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.