According to the latest data from the CDC, overdose deaths rose by 29% from 78,056 in the 12-month period ending in April 2019 to 100,306 in the subsequent 12 month period. This represents the highest 12-month total in American history. Although the increase has been mostly fueled by synthetic opioids such as fentanyls (which account for 75% of deaths), deaths from psychostimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine are also rapidly increasing. The largest increases in deaths were observed in VT (70%), WV (62%), KY (55%), LA (52%) and TN (50%). According to researchers and public health officials, the combined effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the overdose epidemic has further reduced the average life expectancy in the USA.

Drug Free America Foundation epidemiologist Dr. Sharif Mohr said, “This rise in overdose deaths, unprecedented in history, is the result of a perfect storm of stress and mental health issues arising from the pandemic, lack of access to treatment, and the availability of cheap and deadly synthetic drugs. But it would be a mistake to solely blame the pandemic for this issue. The opioid epidemic began long before the pandemic struck.”

Dr. Mohr went on to say, “We absolutely must provide treatment and life-saving medications to everyone that needs them. But we also need to look further upstream and do some real soul-searching as a nation. What is it about our society that leaves our population uniquely vulnerable to addiction and death from drug overdose? The answer seems clear: our political, economic, and educational systems, indeed our very way of life, is no longer conducive to the material, psychological, and spiritual well-being of most people. According to ongoing research, every year we are feeling more anxious, more depressed and more lonely, trends that also began decades ago.”

Source: Ahmad FB, Rossen LM, Sutton P. Provisional drug overdose death counts. National Center for Health Statistics. 2021.