What are the mortality rates of heroin toxicity?

Updated: Dec 16, 2018
  • Author: Rania Habal, MD; Chief Editor: Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor, III, MD  more...
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Most fatalities from heroin overdose occur in long-term users, usually early in their third decade of life. [5, 6] Fatality rates are higher in patients who use alcohol and other drugs such as benzodiazepines and cocaine. Death is most commonly due to respiratory failure or asphyxiation. [6, 7, 8]

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that deaths from heroin overdoses more than tripled from 2010 to 2014, from 1.0 to 3.4 per 100,000 population. [9] From 2014 to 2015, heroin overdose death rates increased by 20.6%, with nearly 13,000 people dying in 2015. [9]

About 3-7% of patients treated for heroin overdose require hospital admission because of complications such as pneumonia, noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, and infectious complications. [5]

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