Opioid overdose deaths continue to rise in Virginia in 2017

Fatal drug overdoses spiked in first nine months of 2016, new data shows

Ruhm said "there's a lot of things that can be done" to obtain the true number of opioid deaths through birth certificates' drug specification.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, estimates for the first nine months of 2016 were higher than the first nine months of the previous year, which had already reached an all time high of 52,404.

The quarterly report also shows cocaine overdoses were up statewide - from 174 in 2015 to 292 in 2016 - a more than 50 percent increase, the report states.

The commission on the opioid epidemic, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, called on the President last week to declare it a national emergency.

"A crucial step to developing policy to combat the fatal drug epidemic is to have a clear understanding of geographic differences in heroin- and opioid-related mortality rates", Christopher J. Ruhm, of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, said in a press release.

The study found opioid deaths nationwide were 24 percent higher than reported rates, while heroin fatalities were 22 percent greater. Coroners and medical examiners are having a hard time keeping up with the overdose deaths, school aged children are using heroin in OH and babies are being born addicts. Those deaths are then kept out of the total rate of USA opioid-related fatalities, which means we don't have an actual number of opioid-related deaths.

"Our citizens are dying". "The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control".

"Opioid mortality rate changes were considerably understated in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey and Arizona", according to the study, published this week in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

Pennsylvania had the largest increase in the data, with 9.2 percent more deaths occurring in the latest study.

That said, Susan Shanaman of the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association said "there are many reasons that a Coroner may not list all the drugs on a death certificate", including federal and state privacy rules.

Ruhm's research also buttresses earlier studies that identified the primary victims of this plague. "This is particularly important when we have scarce funds to allocate and so would want to target them at the hardest hit areas".

OH also has the nation's highest rate of fatal heroin overdoses with 10.4 per 100,000.

The report urges Trump to declare a national emergency, rapidly increase the nation's addiction treatment capacity, and provide model legislation that would promote use of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

"The average family gets 20 copies of a death certificate of their loved one", she wrote in an email to NBC News.

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