(New York) More than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, setting a new record and further evidence of an opioid crisis in the country, the Centers said Wednesday. for the Control and Prevention of Infectious Diseases (CDC).
Provisional figures for 2021 show that one American dies from an overdose every five minutes. This is an increase of 15% compared to the results for 2020, which itself represented a record. The CDC reviews death certificates and then makes an estimate to account for late and incomplete reports.
National Institute on Substance Abuse director Nora Volkow called the latest toll “truly staggering.”
In a statement, the White House said the rise in overdose deaths is “unacceptable” and noted that the Biden administration recently presented its national plan for drug control. The program plans to make treatment more accessible, counter the illegal sale of drugs and provide more people with the drugs that can reverse the effects of an overdose.
The number of fatal overdoses in the United States has increased almost every year for more than 20 years. The rise began in the 1990s with painkiller overdoses, while more recent waves have involved deaths related to the use of opioids like heroin and – more recently – fentanyl.
Last year, there were over 71,000 overdoses related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, representing a 23% increase from 2020. There was also a 23% increase in deaths caused by cocaine use and 34% for other stimulants.
Many fatal overdoses are attributed to more than one drug, as victims often used multiple substances. Additionally, cheap fentanyl is increasingly being “cut” with other drugs, unbeknownst to buyers, authorities say.
“This means that we have a lot more people, including those who use drugs occasionally and even teenagers, who are exposed to these powerful substances that can cause an overdose even if consumed in small quantities,” explained Ms. Volkow in a statement.
Experts say the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the opioid crisis, as shutdowns and other lockdowns have isolated drug users and made safe treatment more difficult to obtain.
Trends in overdose deaths are geographically uneven across states. Alaska saw a 75% increase in 2021, the biggest jump of any state. In Hawaii, overdose deaths decreased by 2%.