When it comes to the number of drug overdoses that take place each year, addiction experts are used to watch the uptick that tends to take place. It’s a sad reality for those who take the time to monitor these things. However, even these people are stunned to see the rise in the numbers over the past year or so.
“That is just an astounding number,” said one Obama-era drug czar of the most recent numbers. “It takes my breath away, honestly,” they continued. When a psychiatry professor who works for Stanford got the chance to speak about the numbers to the Washington Post, they called them terrifying. This was not all that they had to say, though.
“It’s the biggest increase in overdose deaths in the history of the United States, it’s the worst overdose crisis in the history of the United States, and we’re not making progress. It’s really overwhelming,” they added. The figures were also referred to as “a stunning number even for those of us who have tracked this issue.” This latest release from the CDC was already anticipated by many but that does not make it any less surprising.
It’s one thing to speculate and it is another thing to see the numbers laid out in front of you like this. Studies have shown that 28.8 percent rise in ER visits due to opioid overdoses. After leveling off over the past few years, the total number of opioid overdoses has gone by over 30 percent, from 70,890 in 2019 to over 93,000 over the course of 2020.
These trends were encouraged but the social challenges associated with the pandemic have made things much, much worse. There are those who pointed out the inconsistencies with the graphs and numbers in question because they are making the numbers look more frightening than they are. Overdose deaths from every drug have been shown but all drugs are not contributing to the number of deaths in the same way.
In fact, there is one drug that is causing all of the issues. America is not in the middle of a drug epidemic, we are currently in the midst of a fentanyl epidemic. It is a very powerful synthetic opioid that the police cannot even handle on their own without risking an overdose themselves. Junkies who use this drug are at constant risk of overdose.
All they have to do is misjudge their dosage by the tiniest bit and that is all it takes. Others are overdosing on the drug unwittingly, according to the Washington Post:
“Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said in an interview that fentanyl has so thoroughly infiltrated the illegal drug supply that 70 percent of cocaine overdose deaths and 50 percent of methamphetamine overdose deaths also involved fentanyl.
In many cases, she said, users are unaware that their drugs are laced with the powerful painkiller, which can halt breathing even if a minute amount is ingested. In others, users knowingly take multiple drugs.
“Most of the deaths are from multiple drugs,” she said.
Meanwhile, there are others who are pointing out the endless supply of tainted drugs and the issues that are being caused. “What’s really driving the surge in overdoses is this increasingly poisoned drug supply,” said one sociology professor in a recent interview with the Associated Press. This means that all of the recreational drug users are currently being affected in ways that they cannot perceive.
“Nearly all of this increase is fentanyl contamination in some way. Heroin is contaminated. Cocaine is contaminated. Methamphetamine is contaminated,” the professor continued. It is easy to see why these numbers are skyrocketing. Addiction is always going to run rampant when people are isolated from one another, as depression was sure to be a much bigger problem in any year where everyone is stuck inside for the vast majority of the time. Health care professionals were also limited.
These are grim numbers. Addiction feeds on the young and isolated. What does Biden plan to do?