US drug overdoses break record — Analysis
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 107.600 Americans overdosed last year. This record-breaking figure was driven by synthetic opioid abuse and fentanyl. It represents a 15% rise over last year’s total of 93,655 drug overdose deaths.
This massive overdose is the most recorded in overdose statistics since the CDC started tracking them. That’s one every five minutes all across the US. However, this year’s increase in overdose deaths is half as fast as the prior year. Between 2019 and 2020, overdose deaths rose by 30%. Alaska was the most affected, with drug-related deaths increasing by 75.3% in comparison to last year.
Fentanyl (an opioid 50 times stronger than heroin) was the main culprit for the majority of fatal overdoses. This drug is still present in close to two thirds of casualties (71 238), which represents a 23% increase in deaths from previous years. The second most common drug was methamphetamine, which was found in 32,856 of the cases. However, its 34% rate of rise was slower than that for fentanyl. 24,538 people died from cocaine use, and only 13,503 were able to take prescription pain medication, which is the main reason for the rise in the US’s opioid crisis.
The number of overdoses in America in 2018 was not the first. They have been increasing steadily for many years, with a slight dip in 2018. As fentanyl is more accessible and easier to obtain, the numbers continue to rise.
Heroin itself gradually replaced prescription opioids as the latter became more difficult to obtain following a nationwide crackdown on “pill mills.” These were doctors willing to write prescriptions for a beefed-up fee, scripts filled at well-stocked pharmacies that didn’t ask too many questions about why they were in some cases dispensing enough pills to keep every resident of their communities medicated year-round.
Deaths due to drug overdoses in the USA have reached an all-time high
Both buyers and sellers of deadly drugs have been affected by the Covid-19 epidemic. This has made international travel more challenging and synthetic opioids, which are smaller and easier to ship, more attractive. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for people to get treatment and increased their psychological stress.
The US border agents took more than double the quantity of fentanyl last year. They also took almost four times as much in 2019!
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