A December 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded more than 80,000 deaths from overdose between May 2019 and May 2020. That’s a significant increase considering the total number of deaths from January 2019 to January 2020 was around 70,000. The May 2019 to May 2020 record is the highest death rate released in a 12 month period since the record began. The importance cannot be emphasized enough. What does it mean if the United States loses more than 80,000 Americans to drugs in a year?
Drug addiction in America will not go away on its own. On the contrary. Since 1999 there has been an almost uninterrupted increase in deaths from overdose compared to the previous year. Drug addiction is a public health epidemic that is getting worse every year. It will continue to get worse until the American people come together and step up efforts to address it.
A look at the data
According to a December 2020 CDC newsroom publication, over 81,000 people died from drug overdoses between May 2019 and May 2020. The data suggests that while overdoses began to rise even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest numbers point to an acceleration in deaths from overdose during the pandemic. Former CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield, “The disruption of daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit people with an addictive disease hard. As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it is important not to lose sight of the different groups that are otherwise affected. We need to take care of people who are suffering from unintended consequences. ”
“The disruption to daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has hit people with an addictive disorder hard.”
While the pandemic may have contributed to overdose deaths by undoubtedly making the lives of addicts more difficult and precarious, there is no evidence that overdose deaths will decrease once the pandemic comes under control. Opioids are the leading cause of overdose deaths in America, and controlling COVID-19 will do nothing material to curb opioid addiction.
If opioid addicts receive no help in treatment centers, they will continue to use opioids, pandemic or no pandemic.
CDC data shows that synthetic opioid (primarily fentanyl) overdose increased by 38.4% in the 12 months to June 2020 in opioid-related overdose deaths from May 2019 to June 2020.
But it wasn’t just opioid deaths that rose. CDC experts also reported that deaths from cocaine increased by 26.5% during the study period, with most of those deaths associated with cocaine mixed with fentanyl or heroin. Psychostimulant overdose deaths also increased, increasing 34.8% over the study period. Similar to cocaine deaths, many of the psychostimulant deaths were caused by psychostimulants mixed with synthetic opioids.
America’s opioid addiction crisis is a national public health emergency
Aside from a brief decrease in overdose deaths in 2018, drug deaths have increased every year since 1999. Also, according to the CDC, 841,000 people died from drug overdoses between 1999 and 2019. Over 70% of these deaths were from an opioid, suggesting the irrefutable presence of a mounting opioid crisis in America.
The number of deaths from opioid overdose (including prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl) has increased by more than 600% since 1999. Much of this increase began with the massive increase in the production, distribution, and prescription of prescription opioids. As more Americans prescribe pain relievers, it has led to addictions and chemical dependencies in millions of Americans. When these people could no longer get pain medication from their doctors or their bodies became more tolerant of their prescriptions, they turned to illegal opioids like heroin and illegally manufactured opioids like fentanyl and other synthetic agents to find their solution.
The study period from May 2019 to June 2020 indicates a significant increase in overdose deaths, and there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic had something to do with it. But the dates are clear. The number of overdose deaths in America has increased since 1999, and there is no sign that these overdose statistics will decline once the pandemic is brought under control. Because of this, families, communities, public health organizations, policy makers, and heads of state and federal government must allocate resources to help addicts get into and through drug treatment programs.
Put Overdose Deaths in perspective
Losing 81,000 Americans to overdosing in a year is devastating. Not only is this a significant loss of life, but any death from overdose is preventable. In addition to being a leading cause of preventable death in the United States, drug overdoses are also a leading cause of accidents and injury-related deaths.
One way to put drug overdoses in perspective is to compare such deaths with other preventable causes of death. For example:
- In 2019, an estimated 38,000 people lost their lives in car accidents (a 2% decrease from 2018). More than twice as many people who die in car accidents each year die from drug overdoses.
- In 2017 (the last year for which data are available) 39,773 people died from gunshot wounds. Similar to car accidents, gun deaths make up less than half the total number of Americans who die from drug overdoses each year.
- Accidental falls are one of the leading causes of death in accidents. According to CDC data, 39,433 people died from accidental falls in 2018. More than twice as many die each year from drug overdoses.
- In 1999, fewer than 20,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. In the past two decades, the death toll has more than quadrupled. The other causes of death; Car accidents, firearms, and falls are nowhere near as high. In fact, car accidents and falls are less common than before.
An end to an epidemic of drug overdoses
With the death toll rising more than 400% in the past two decades, there is no doubt that the United States is grappling with a dangerous drug addiction epidemic.
When examining the subject, it becomes clear that deaths from drug overdose are among the most critical and obvious reasons for drug addicts Got to Get help. This means that family members and loved ones of addicts should do everything in their power to help their loved ones find treatment. This saves tens of thousands of lives every year.