Vida & Psicología

Drug overdose deaths show an alarming spike in the US

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Overdoses of methamphetamine and cocaine are also on rise

Drug overdoses soared due to the long cycle of pandemic-induced isolation, killing 93,331 Americans in 2020. Amidst the raging pandemic which claimed almost 600,000 lives in the US, another major crisis has hit the country which has largely been ignored by the government and media.

At least 93,331 Americans have died from drug overdoses in 2020, a 30 percent increase compared to 2019, marking an all-time high and sharpest annual spike in the last three decades.

According to provisional data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) on Wednesday, the estimated death toll from drug overdose was 72,151 in 2019.

«That is a stunning number even for those of us who have tracked this issue,» Brendan Saloner, associate professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told The Wall Street Journal . 

The graphic shows the number of drug overdose deaths over the years in the United States, according to the data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (TRTWorld) «Our public health tools have not kept pace with the urgency of the crisis,» Saloner added.

Heroin, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, tramadol cocaine,  psychostimulants and methamphetamine, have caused most of the deaths,  according to the CDCP survey. 

Social isolation, trauma and job losses are the leading factors behind the increasing overdose deaths amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The overdose deaths started to rise in the fall of 2019 with the spread of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, but in March 2020, social distancing caused by the lockdown measures fuelled these deaths.

«It’s really one of those things where 2020 turbocharged something that was already wildly out of control,» Dr. Saloner said.

The pandemic has played a disincentive role in the sobriety of people struggling with drug addiction under the stressful and socially distanced environment.

The opioid is the main cause of overdose deaths in the last three decades as its role has been constantly increasing. 

Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin as the number of people using it has been increasing in the US.

A long time heroin user said that he didn’t know his limit after using fentanyl to underline its potent.

For example, deaths caused by fentanyl were up by 57 percent in Seattle in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Now, fentanyl is frequently being mixed into other drugs as many of the users are unaware.

Last year 57,550 out of nearly 93 thousand overdose deaths were caused by synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl. This equals more than a 54 percent increase compared to 2019.

The opioids caused overdose deaths rose almost 37 percent, according to CDC.

Overdoses of methamphetamine and cocaine are also on rise.

Vermont, Kentucky, West Virginia and South Carolina are the states where overdose deaths were mostly increased in the first year of the pandemic.

The deaths occurring because of drug overdose have deepened the health crisis in the US where Covid-19 virus had already hit the hardest, killing hundreds of thousands people since March 2020. 

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