The U.S. government found that the number of drug overdose deaths has soared to a record 93,000 last year despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors such as unemployment rates which have been steadily decreasing since 2016 if not earlier (this information is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control).
A 29% increase was recorded with an estimated death toll climbing up to more than 72,000 due mainly to fentanyl use; this puts it at almost double what they've seen previously according to experts like Brandon Marshall who's also researching trends related specifically towards overdoses. "This is a staggering loss," he said speaking about these findings while adding "[we] need urgent action."
The nation was already struggling with its worst overdose epidemic but clearly “COVID has greatly exacerbated the crisis,” he added. Lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions isolated those with drug addictions and made treatment harder to get, experts, said. Jordan McGlashen died of a drug overdose in his Ypsilanti, Michigan apartment last year on May 6th, 2018 at 11:00 AM where he is pronounced dead from apparent fentanyl-related opiate toxicity by EMS personnel who responded following reports that someone had overdosed there earlier that morning."
“It was really difficult for me to think about how Jordan died. He was alone, and suffering emotionally and felt like he had to use again,” said his younger brother, Collin McGlashen, who wrote openly about his brother’s addiction in an obituary.
Jordan McGlashen was one of many who died from a heroin and fentanyl overdose. Fentanyl is an opioid that has been increasingly used to treat intense pain in people with cancer, but it appears more often as part of illicit drugs these days than prescribed medication alone.
“What’s really driving the surge in overdoses is this increasingly poisoned drug supply,” said Shannon Monnat, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University who researches geographic patterns in overdoses. “Nearly all of this increase is fentanyl contamination in some way. Heroin is contaminated. Cocaine is contaminated. Methamphetamine is contaminated.”
Researchers are looking into why people in America's "Rust Belt" seem to be struggling with addiction more than in past generations. Some have told Monnat they were able to buy drugs due to the suspensions of evictions and extended unemployment benefits that left them with a lot of extra money, which led many to think it was easier for those already struggling with addiction because when you're financially stable, your drug supply is secure too.
The increased deaths most likely came from Americans who had struggled without access or funds before these recent occurrences so while there doesn't appear any change among American citizens on substance use last year (as other research has shown), it seems like this may just reflect an increase in poverty and its related troubles over time.
Every day, 260 people die from drug overdoses in the United States. Although this number has been on a downward trend since its peak of over 400 deaths per day last year, it is still tragically high and an indication that many Americans are struggling with addiction who need help before they can get their life back together.
The CDC's new report of the 21,000 increase in overdose deaths year-to-year is a huge jump and was last seen when heroin addiction among Americans became an epidemic.
The rise in drug-related deaths is a result of the opioid epidemic, which has been causing an increase since 1999. The CDC reports that there were only 7200 total U.S overdose deaths reported back in 1970 when heroin was rampant on city streets and around 9000 at its peak from 1988 to 2000 during the crack cocaine era.
A recent study found that in 2020 drug overdoses increased almost everywhere. Kentucky had the most significant increase, of 54%. Vermont experienced a smaller but still sizable jump of 58%, which is more than any other state surveyed!
The rise of fentanyl has some experts fearing that drug overdose deaths will not be declining any time soon. Rhode Island, in particular, saw a spike this year, with 34 and 37 overdoses reported in January and February respectively – the highest amount for those months since 2012.
It’s been an incredibly dark time for Collin McGlashen and his family. It all began in January when their father passed away from cancer, which sent the musician into a tailspin of depression.
“Someone can be doing really well for so long and then, in a flash, deteriorate,” he said.
Then came the pandemic. Jordan lost his job. “It was kind of a final descent.”
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