The number of people who have died from drug overdoses in the United States has soared in the last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A new report from the CDC said that 81,230 drug overdose deaths took place between June 2019 and June 2020 – the highest number ever recorded in the US.
‘This represents a worsening of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States and is the largest number of drug overdoses for a 12-month period ever recorded,’ the report, which was released on December 17, states.
The number of overdose deaths had declined by 4.1% from 2017 to 2018, however that number increased by 18.2% during the 12 months following June 2019.
The increase in overdose fatalities is largely down to synthetic opioids, with the agency reporting that ‘the 12-month count of synthetic opioid deaths increased 38.4% from the 12-months ending in June 2019 compared with the 12-months ending in May 2020’.
Drug overdoses had already been on the rise before 2020, however it’s thought that the impact of the pandemic is one of the factors behind the exponential rise in fatalities.
Two out of three overdose deaths in the states can be linked to opioids such as heroin, synthetic opioids like fentanyl and even prescription opioids.
Overdose deaths involving cocaine also increased by 26.5% from the year 2018/2019 to 2019/2020, however the report does note that the majority of those deaths also involve synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
In response to the increase in deaths, the CDC has suggested expanding the use of naloxone, which is a drug that treats overdose emergencies. It also suggested that people should take part in overdose prevention classes.
The report comes after the CDC launched a funding agreement called Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) in September 2019, which collects in-depth data on drug overdoses so it can help inform public health organisations on how best to avoid fatalities.
Between 1999 and 2018, more than 750,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, while overdoses also amounted to the highest number of injury-related deaths in the US.
A number of high profile celebrities have died from drug overdoses linked to opioids like fentanyl in recent years, including Mac Miller, who passed away in 2018.
The rapper went into cardiac arrest on September 7, 2018, after an accidental overdose caused by cocaine, fentanyl and alcohol. Three people were charged in relation to his death.
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