Newly-released data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) on nationwide overdose-related deaths indicate that such fatalities are increasing at a rapid pace, jumping from 38,329 in 2010 to 47,055 in 2014, then to 52,404 by 2015, a 27 percent increase in five years.
Adults between the ages of 45 and 54 had the highest rates of overdose deaths in 2015, and the rates are increasing among non-Hispanic white people, almost 3.5 times the rate in 1999, according to the CDC.
The highest rates of drug overdose deaths occurred in West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio.
The age-adjusted rate of overdose-related deaths among non-Hispanic white persons increased by a rate of nearly 3.5 from 1999 to 2015 (21.1 deaths per 100,000), the NCHS reported.
Four states - West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and OH - lead the nation with the highest overdose death rates, the CDC said. Overdose death rates among whites have more than tripled since 1999.
Heroin-related deaths in the United States skyrocketed in the span of five years, amounting to a quarter of all overdose deaths by 2015, according to new federal data, presenting another grim snapshot of America's opioid epidemic.
CDC researchers examined data from the National Vital Statics System to see the effects of drug trends across the nation from 1999 to 2015, ABC reported.
Overdose death rates also increased among black people, from 7.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 12 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015; and among Hispanic people, the rate increased from 5 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015.More news: Major League Baseball to use dugout signal for intentional walk
Other opioids - both synthetic and natural - such as oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin) accounted for another 24 percent of overdose deaths in 2015, down from 29 percent in 2010.
"Heroin is part of America's larger drug abuse problem", said Mr. Hamburg.
Overdoses increased in all age groups.
Bolstered by a huge increase in cases involving heroin, the rate at which Americans die from drug overdoses has more than doubled since the end of the millennium.
The heroin and opioid epidemic has taken its toll.
"It's that it's not just heroin anymore between the fentanyl [and] of the synthetic variants including carfentanil" an elephant tranquilizer, said Slovis.
Fentanyl and Carfentanil, which was created to be an elephant tranquilizer, has led in some instances to EMS personnel running out of the opioid antidote Narcan while treating a single patient, he said.