Authors of the study note in 2010 only eight percent of all fatal drug overdoses stemmed from heroin.
The rate of fatal drug overdoses more than doubled nationwide since 1999, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The primary focus of the report was heroin use, which has steadily increased over the past 15 years. Heroin leads the charge, accounting for a quarter of the overdose deaths, more than triple the rate at which it killed in 2010.
The researchers also found that the percentage of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and tramadol, more than doubled during that time period, increasing from 8 percent in 2010 to 18 percent in 2015.
For example, while fatal overdoses involving so-called "natural", "semi-synthetic", and "synthetic" opioids (morphine, oxycodone, methadone) all fell between 2010 and 2015, the percentage of fatal overdoses involving heroin tripled. The suicide rate is 13.4 deaths per 100,000 and the rate of deaths from vehicle accidents is 11.1 deaths per 100,000 people.
Different age groups were also hit far harder by fatal opioid overdose than others.More news: Macy's: Plans on Closing Stores
The states with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in 2015 were West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio. There are also increases in deaths from cocaine and methamphetamines.
In 2015, the rate for whites was almost three times higher than that among Hispanics and almost double the rate for blacks, USA Today said.
Americans between the ages of 45 to 54 had the highest rate of fatal drug overdoses overall in 2015, with 30 deaths reported per 100,000. The CDC estimates that 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. Prescription painkillers still account for 24 percent of fatal drug deaths in the country.
The state with the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in 2015 was West Virginia, with a rate of 41 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by New Hampshire, with a rate of 34 deaths per 100,000 people, and Kentucky and OH, both of which had about 30 overdose deaths per 100,000 people. Drug overdose deaths increased the most for adults aged 55 to 64, from 4.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 21.8 in 2015, the last year for which data is available, up an average of 10.5% per year.
"You are 40 times more likely to use heroin if you stated with opioid painkillers", Hamburg said.
"When you use an elephant tranquilizer on a human, bad things are going to happen", Slovis said, according to ABC.