Health and Fitness

Drug Overdose Deaths Hit an All-Time High in 2021, CDC Data Show

There have been an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths within the U.S. in 2021, based on new information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The loss of life price is the best on report for overdose fatalities, and it was up 15% from the 2020 price of 93,655 deaths—a quantity that was 30% greater than the 2019 price. The information spotlight a surge in overdose deaths throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic disruptions—together with restricted entry to rehabilitation services, naloxone (a drug that may reverse signs of an opioid overdose), and medication-assisted remedy—might have performed an element within the elevated loss of life price, Jules Netherland, director of the division of analysis and tutorial engagement on the Drug Policy Alliance, tells SELF. However, the speed was climbing earlier than the pandemic took maintain. “Unfortunately overdose deaths were going rapidly up before COVID, but the increase during COVID has certainly escalated,” Netherland says. She provides that communities of coloration are being hit tougher and that methods must be applied shortly to reverse the present development.

Alaska noticed the most important improve within the overdose loss of life price in 2021, rising 75.3% from the 2020 price. Other states that noticed steep will increase embrace Vermont, South Dakota, Kansas, and Oregon, per the brand new information. Wyoming noticed a 0% change, whereas overdose deaths in Hawaii went down by 1.81%.

Among the 107,622 deaths, 80,816 concerned opioids, based on the information. In addition to opioids, overdose deaths from artificial opioids (primarily fentanyl), cocaine, and psychostimulants (like methamphetamine) additionally elevated in 2021 in comparison with 2020.

Drugs contaminated with fentanyl, an artificial opioid that’s as much as 100 occasions stronger than morphine, per the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), might have contributed to the spike within the overdose loss of life price, Netherland says. “We do know fentanyl has contaminated a lot of the drug supply and is driving” overdose deaths, she explains. But eliminating fentanyl gained’t remedy all of the disaster and convey the speed again down, Netherland warns. Instead, specialists have to deal with hurt discount methods. “Until we really scale up harm reduction and treatment services, I don’t think we’re going to turn this around,” she explains.

Netherland factors to quite a few completely different measures that would sluggish the overdose loss of life price’s climb, widespread entry to naloxone and fentanyl check strips amongst them. The check strips would reveal if a product has been contaminated with fentanyl, 2 milligrams of which might be deadly, relying on an individual’s measurement. Overdose prevention facilities, which have been established in New York City, may additionally convey down the loss of life price, Netherland says. These enable individuals who use medication to take action in a managed setting, the place skilled workers can supervise and help in the event that they overdose. 

Additionally, till states decriminalize possessing small quantities of at present unlawful medication—which Oregon did in 2020—individuals who purchase them gained’t have the ability to inform whether or not their provide has been contaminated with a harmful substance. “Criminalizing and prohibiting the purchase and sale—it means people aren’t going to know what they’re getting,” Netherland provides.



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