U.S. drug deaths tops 100,000 during pandemic lockdown

  • The first year of the pandemic also saw a record-high death rate to drug overdose in the United States.
  • The deaths were attributed to opioids, particularly synthetic ones like fentanyl.
  • Over 100,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2020, a 29% increase from the previous year.

An American died of a drug overdose every five minutes during the pandemic, said Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 100,000 people in the U.S. died of a drug overdose in 2020, marking a 29% increase from 2019.

New initiatives have since been launched to combat the overdose epidemic.

The White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other government health officials increased funding toward addiction prevention efforts, allowed the use of federal funds to purchase fentanyl test strips that will detect the presence of fentanyl in drugs, and expanded access to naloxone, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses.

The CDC’s report attributed the vast majority of those deaths to opioids, particularly synthetic ones like fentanyl.

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institutes of Health. It can also be manufactured to look like real prescription pills, which are then illegally imported and sold throughout the country.

The CDC had previously warned about the accelerating rate of overdose deaths attributed to this opioid during the pandemic.

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Anne Milgram declared, “We have already seized 12,000 pounds of fentanyl. This year alone, the DEA has seized enough fentanyl to provide every member of the United States population with a lethal dose.”

Psychiatrist Dr. Akhil Anand of Cleveland Clinic pointed out that the increasing number of deaths from overdoses also signifies an alarming crisis in the mental health community.

“This new report should be another continued wake-up call to the overdose deaths happening every day, and people often don’t even know what they are taking,” Anand said. “This is a public health crisis, and it is crucial we continue to get people into treatment quickly.”

For more information, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics created an interactive dashboard that shows an overview of the new data.

Source: ABC News

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