United States has seen a 30% increase in the deaths caused by overuse of drugs. In 2020, the country hit the highest number of drug related deaths ever recorded.
As reported by the Centers of Diseases and Control Prevention (CDC) reported on Wednesday, more than 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020. CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported a 29.4% increase in drug overuse deaths from the 72,151 in 2019 to 93000 in 2020.
The National Center for Health Statistics stated, “Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in 2020 compared to 2019. Cocaine deaths also increased in 2020, as did deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as prescription pain medication),”
Additionally, other medical authorities also commented the report by CDC. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement, “This is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, and the largest increase since at least 1999. These data are chilling.
Stating the contribution of the 2020 pandemic in such a spike, Volkow said, “The COVID-19 pandemic created a devastating collision of health crises in America. This has been an incredibly uncertain and stressful time for many people and we are seeing an increase in drug consumption, difficulty in accessing life-saving treatments for substance use disorders, and a tragic rise in overdose deaths,”
Medical professionals are highly blaming the pandemic for the increase in drug related deaths. However, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a former deputy commission at the US Food and Drug Administration, also stated that though the pandemic is receding, “we are still dealing with this overdose crisis.”
Shannon Monnat, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University who researches geographic patterns in overdoses, suggested that the contaminated drugs are also playing the role. Shannon said, “What’s really driving the surge in overdoses is this increasingly poisoned drug supply. Nearly all of this increase is fentanyl contamination in some way. Heroin is contaminated. Cocaine is contaminated. Methamphetamine is contaminated.”
CDC data suggests that Fentanyl was responsible for more than 60% of the overdose deaths last year. The NCHS also reported a drastic increase in overuse deaths from Opiods.
Sharfstein told CNN, “There are definitely actions that the clinical community can take to reduce the risk of people becoming addicted to opioids,”