Overdose Deaths in US Hit Record High during Pandemic
According to federal studies, nearly 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in the year that ended in April.
Americans who died of drug overdoses hit a record number as the pandemic spread across the country, federal researchers reported on Wednesday. This was caused by loss of access to treatment, rising mental health problems, and wider availability of dangerously potent street drugs.
More than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses, up almost 30% from the 78,000 deaths in the prior year, according to provisional figures from the National Center for Health Statistics.
This is the first time deaths due to overdose hit this record high in the United States in a year, which exceeds the toll of car crashes, gun fatalities, and even respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and influenza.
“I believe that no one should die of an overdose simply because they didn’t have access to naloxone,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Sadly, today that is happening across the country, and access to naloxone often depends a great deal on where you live.”
The rise in deaths was triggered by the widespread use of fentanyl, a fast-acting drug that is 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Moreover, overdose deaths related to the use of stimulants like methamphetamine, cocaine, and natural and semi-synthetic opioids, such as prescription pain medication, also increased in the twelve-month period.