Drug Overdose Deaths Continue To Climb

F.J. Thomas

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – While reporting from the National Council on Compensation Insurance may have showed a drop in opioid prescription numbers and drug use in 2020, new data from the CDC paints a bleak picture for the war on drugs. According to the data released earlier this month from the CDC, there has been a steady increase in drug overdose deaths.

Although the US saw a decrease in opioid use, from the start of the pandemic, the numbers of deaths from drug overdoses have steadily increased for more than a year. From September 2019 through September 2020, the number of deaths from drug overdose increased 26.8 percent nationwide. When broken out by state, while some states saw decreased or minimal change, other saw increases as high as 56.8 percent, as in the case of the District of Columbia. Louisiana was another state that saw a drastic increase at 53.2 percent, followed by Kentucky at 49.2 percent, and West Virginia at 49 percent.

The only state to report a decrease was South Dakota at a reduction of 4.8 percent. North Carolina experienced a .2 percent increase. New Hampshire reported a 2.2 percent increase, followed by Alaska at 2.9 percent.

While there has been quite a bit of speculation into the causes behind the increase in drug overdose deaths, especially in regard to the pandemic, certain statistics could point to a contributing factor to the increase in drug related deaths, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In the previous years, the top increase of overdose deaths in the western states involved synthetic opioids, primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl, at a 67.9 percent increase. According to the data from the CDC, as of May last year, 37 of the 38 jurisdictions reporting synthetic opioid data reported an increase, with 47 percent of those jurisdictions reporting at least a 50 percent increase. During the same time period, cocaine overdose deaths increased by 26.5 percent.

According to a report from the The Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Learning Network, director Nora Volkow, MD of the National Institute on Drug Abuse believes the increase of fentanyl related deaths is a direct result of dealers stretching their supplies of cocaine in response to the borders shutting down due to the pandemic.

In an earlier report from WBUR, Volkow also speculated that unemployment and social distancing could be a strong contributor as well, especially for those that need additional support and monitoring for depression, and substance abuse.

The CDC is still combing through the data as some of it is still incomplete to determine what the true impact of shutdowns and isolation has been on those that struggle with drug addiction

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