Opioids killing even more than reported, study says

BackyardProduction via Getty Images

BackyardProduction via Getty Images

The deadliest drug epidemic in American history is taking more lives than we knew.

The conclusion from a study in the journal "Addiction" looks at how states report overdose deaths and correct for underreporting.

The study's author, Christopher Ruhm, is a public policy expert at the University of Virginia. According to Ruhm's research, if all coroners accurately reported opioid overdose deaths, official counts would be substantially higher.

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The Centers for Disease Control released a study earlier this week showing the number of children admitted to hospitals for opioid overdose has almost doubled since 2004.

To estimate national trends in opioid overdose, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aggregates data from more than 3,000 coroner's offices around the country. For example, if a state or county spends money on better recording of overdose deaths it will be "rewarded" by looking as if its opioid problem is getting worse. 95 percent of all overdose deaths have an additional finding specifying the type or types of drug (s) involved.

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