The number of overdose deaths across the United States skyrocketed by nearly 30% last year, equating to tens of thousands more lives lost, according to preliminary federal data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary counts for drug overdose deaths on Wednesday. The numbers showed that the number of people who died last year from overdoses shot up to 93,331 from 72,151 deaths in 2019, according to The Wall Street Journal. As the outlet reported:
The surge, the 2020 data show, was driven largely by a proliferation of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid whose use has spread across the nation. The pandemic amplified the epidemic of overdoses, bringing on social isolation, trauma and job losses, according to addiction experts and treatment providers. Overdose deaths began rising in the fall of 2019 with the spread of fentanyl, but really took off starting in March 2020, when pandemic-driven shutdowns and physical-distancing measures set in.
“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, said regarding the new data. “Our public health tools have not kept pace with the urgency of the crisis.”
Of the pandemic and lockdowns, Saloner added, “It’s really one of those things where 2020 turbocharged something that was already wildly out of control.” – READ MORE
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