Health News Desk World

Thu 18 November 2021:

“More than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States during the 12-month period ending April 2021, according to provisional data published Wednesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, climbing 28.5 percent from the year before, mostly due to opioids.

“As we continue to make strides to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot overlook this epidemic of loss, which has touched families and communities across the country,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Opioids were responsible for 75,673 of the 100,306 deaths, with synthetic opioids, especially fentanyl, being the main cause.

According to Our World in Data, Covid-19 killed roughly 508,000 people in the same time frame.

The number of people dying from psychostimulants like methamphetamine, as well as natural and semi-synthetic opioids like prescription pain relievers and cocaine, is on the rise.

Experts say people with substance use disorders were hit particularly hard by disruptions to daily life brought about by the pandemic.

At the same time, the US Drug Enforcement Administration has warned Americans about prescription pills available online that are made to look like real Oxycontin, Vicodin, Xanax or Adderall, but which are laced with lethal doses of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

“My Administration is committed to doing everything in our power to address addiction and end the overdose epidemic,” Biden added in his statement.

“Through the American Rescue Plan, we’ve delivered nearly $4 billion to strengthen and expand services for substance use disorder and mental health.”In 2019, the latest year for which national data was available, heart disease was the leading cause of death, with some 660,000 fatalities, followed by cancer, with around 600,000 deaths, and unintentional injuries, at 175,000.

Drug overdoses deaths will continue

As the country reopens and society returns to some pre-pandemic normalcy, experts say people will continue to die from drug overdoses at very high rates if action isn’t taken to significantly improve access to treatment.

“Even if Covid went away tomorrow, we’d still have a problem. What will have an impact is dramatic improvement to access to treatment,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, medical director of opioid policy research at the Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

“These are deaths in people with a preventable, treatable condition. The United States continues to fail on both fronts, both on preventing opioid addiction and treating addiction,” he said, emphasizing the need for President Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises to address the crisis.

The latest estimates from the CDC suggest drug overdose deaths fall somewhere between the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. In 2019, Alzheimer’s disease caused about 121,000 deaths and diabetes killed about 88,000 people in the US.

As of 2016, drug overdoses have killed about as many Americans as car accidents and gun violence combined. Now, drug overdoses cause about twice as many deaths.

Heart disease was the leading cause of death in the US in 2019, killing nearly 660,000 people, according to data from the CDC. Cancer caused nearly 600,000 deaths. These figures reflect final, annual updates and are not directly comparable to provisional data.





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