With the opioid epidemic still on the rise, the tragic milestone translates to one death from substance abuse in the U.S. every five minutes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated Wednesday that more than 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, setting another tragic record in the country’s escalating overdose epidemic.
The provisional total for 2021 is a 15% increase from the record set the previous year. The CDC reviews death certificates and then estimates late and incomplete reports.
Dr Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, called the latest figures “truly alarming”.
The White House issued a statement calling the accelerated rate of overdose deaths “unacceptable” and touting its recently announced national drug control strategy. It calls for connecting more people to treatment, disrupting drug trafficking and expanding access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone.
It’s unacceptable that we lose our lives to an overdose every five minutes. that’s why, @POTUSThe strategic focus is to defeat the opioid epidemic by tracking its drivers: untreated addiction and drug trafficking.
My statement on today’s excess data: https://t.co/64xh2anKfN
— Rahul Gupta (@DrGupta46) May 11, 2022
For more than 20 years, overdose deaths in the United States have risen in most years. This increase began in the 1990s with an overdose of opioid painkillers, followed by a wave of deaths from other opioids such as heroin and, more recently, illicit fentanyl.
There were more than 71,000 overdoses involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids last year, a 23 percent increase from the previous year. Deaths involving cocaine also rose by 23%, and deaths involving methamphetamine and other stimulants rose by 34%.
Overdose deaths are often attributed to more than one drug. Officials say some people take multiple drugs, and cheap fentanyl is increasingly being cut into other drugs, often without the buyer’s knowledge.
“The end result is that we have more people, including those who occasionally use drugs, even teens, who are exposed to these powerful substances, even in relatively small amounts, that can lead to someone overdosing,” Wall said. Coe said in a statement.
Experts say the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, as lockdowns and other restrictions isolate drug addicts and make treatment more difficult to access.
Trends in overdose deaths are geographically uneven. Alaska grew 75% in 2021, the largest increase of any state. In Hawaii, overdose deaths fell 2 percent.