Hospitalizations for opioid abuse/dependence increased 72% between 2002 and 2012 to an estimated 520,275 per year, while hospitalizations for opioid-associated infections rose 91% to 6,535, according to a study published today in Health Affairs. Intravenous administration of opioids and heroin can cause serious infections, such as endocarditis and septic arthritis, increasing hospitalization costs. “These findings have important implications for the hospitals and government agencies that disproportionately shoulder these costs and for clinicians, researchers and policymakers interested in estimating the potential impact of targeted public health interventions at the national level,” the authors said.