Overdose Deaths Have Surged During the Pandemic, C.D.C. Data Shows

New York Times –

The latest numbers surpass even the yearly tolls during the height of the opioid epidemic and mark a reversal of progress against addiction in recent years.

More than 87,000 Americans died of drug overdoses over the 12-month period that ended in September, according to preliminary federal data, eclipsing the toll from any year since the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s.

The surge represents an increasingly urgent public health crisis, one that has drawn less attention and fewer resources while the nation has battled the coronavirus pandemic.

Deaths from overdoses started rising again in the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic — after dropping slightly in 2018 for the first time in decades — and it is hard to gauge just how closely the two phenomena are linked. But the pandemic unquestionably exacerbated the trend, which grew much worse last spring: The biggest jump in Overdose

" target="_blank" >overdose deaths took place in April and May, when fear and stress were rampant, job losses were multiplying and the strictest lockdown measures were in effect.

Many treatment programs closed during that time, at least temporarily, and “drop-in centers” that provide support, clean syringes and naloxone, the lifesaving medication that reverses overdoses, cut back services that in many cases have yet to be fully restored.

The preliminary data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a 29 percent rise in overdose deaths from October 2019 through September 2020 — the most recent data available — compared with the previous 12-month period. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were the primary drivers, although many fatal overdoses have also involved stimulant drugs, particularly methamphetamine.

And unlike in the early years of the opioid epidemic, when deaths were largely among white Americans in rural and suburban areas, the current crisis is affecting Black Americans disproportionately.

“The highest increase in mortality from opioids, predominantly driven by fentanyl, is now among Black Americans,” Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said at a national addiction conference last week. “And when you look at mortality from methamphetamine, it’s chilling to realize that the risk of dying from methamphetamine overdose is 12-fold higher among American Indians and Alaskan Natives than other groups.”

Dr. Volkow added that more deaths than ever involved drug combinations, typically of fentanyl or Heroin

" target="_blank" >heroin with stimulants.

“Dealers are lacing these non-opioid drugs with cheaper, yet potent, opioids to make a larger profit,” she said. “Someone who’s addicted to a stimulant drug like cocaine or methamphetamine is not tolerant to opioids, which means they are going to be at high risk of overdose if they get a stimulant drug that’s laced with an opioid like fentanyl.”

Tags: Opioid Epidemic Overdose Statistics" >Synthetic Opioids
  • Term: Glossary: Stimulants
  • " >Methamphetamine
  • Term: PA: Opiate Overdoses Spike in Black Philadelphians, But Drop in White Residents Since COVID-19
  • " >Buprenorphine
  • Term: Glossary: Barbiturates
  • " >Benzodiazepines
  • Term: FL: Central Florida drug OD deaths up 70% during COVID, report shows
  • " >Fentanyl
  • Term: Glossary: Bath Salts
  • " >Drug Abuse
  • Term: PA: As overdoses rise, Philly health officials warn about 'pressed pills' -- fake painkillers laced with fentanyl
  • " >Stimulants
  • Term: Vancouver Votes to Decriminalise All Drugs: What Now?
  • " >Addiction
  • Term: US: As overdoses soar, feds make it easier for doctors to prescribe addiction medication
  • " >Methadone
  • Term: KY: ​Gov. Andy Beshear Announces $4.6 Million in Grants to Expand Treatment and Recovery Services Including those for Pregnant and Parenting Women with Opioid Use Disorders
  • " >Analogues
  • Term: Tennessee
  • " >Overdose
  • Term: ID: Lewiston woman charged with felony after newborn tests positive for opioids, amphetamines
  • " >Heroin

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