The Deadliest Year In the History of U.S. Drug Use

Summary and Analysis…

Increases in abuse of fentanyl, meth and cocaine are adding to the existing drug addiction crisis. It also appears that part of the pandemic’s collateral damage includes an increase in overdose deaths. As covered in the article:

The largest overdose spike happened from March to May of this year, which coincides with the beginning of the pandemic when the economy collapsed, lockdowns were imposed and “social distancing” became a new way of life. In addition to unemployment and financial precarity driving up despair, public-health experts have also suggested that isolation during the pandemic has led more people to use drugs alone with no one around to revive them or call 911 if they overdose.

Communities and providers, already stretched, will need to look for innovative solutions to both address those with addictions and to help prevent new addictions from developing.

Excerpted from New York Magazine

While over 300,000 Americans and counting have died from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, another public-health disaster is taking more lives than ever before: drug overdoses.

Overdose deaths in 2019 were significantly higher than 2018, jumping from 67,367 deaths in 2018 to 70,630 overdose deaths in 2019, marking a nearly 5 percent increase, according to a new report issued Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If that’s not grim enough, a separate health alert published by the CDC this week reports a “concerning acceleration” in overdose deaths for 2020, which provisional data show is on track to be the deadliest year for U.S. drug overdose deaths in recorded history. Complete data for 2020 is not expected to be available until some time next year.

Now the U.S. may be entering a fourth wave, or something more like a tsunami. Illicit fentanyl and stimulants such as meth and cocaine now account for the bulk of overdose deaths. From 2012 through 2019, the rate of overdose deaths involving cocaine increased more than three-fold, and stimulants like methamphetamine increased more than six-fold, according to the CDC. Trends in stimulant overdoses are also on track to worsen during 2020. Deaths involving cocaine increased by 26.5 percent from June 2019 to May 2020, while deaths involving stimulants such as meth increased by 34.8 percent during the same period.