Astonishing numbers were revealed in provisional data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealing drug overdose deaths reached a record high of 93,331 in 2020, a nearly 30 percent increase in the US. The death toll jumped from 72,151 deaths in 2019, according to the data.
“That is a stunning number even for those of us who have tracked this issue,” Brendan Saloner, associate professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told The Wall Street Journal.
“Our public health tools have not kept pace with the urgency of the crisis.”
The spike in drug overdose deaths was attributed to the spread of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin. However, deaths from methamphetamine and cocaine overdoses also increased, Western Journal reported.
Moreover, the overdose epidemic was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Addiction experts and treatment providers told The Wall Street Journal that coronavirus lockdowns intensified feelings of social isolation, trauma and job losses, which contributed to drug use, thus a dramatic increase in overdose deaths.
“It’s about isolation, about disruption in life, and maybe exacerbation of mental-health symptoms,” said Adam Maslowski, a clinical coordinator for outpatient services in New York.
“A lot of people love Zoom, but there is something about face-to-face contact.”