For the first time, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. over the course of a year.
Drug overdoses killed over 100,000 Americans in the one-year period between April of 2020 and April of 2021, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Overdose deaths have been rising over the past two decades, but they’ve accelerated dramatically over the past few years, and NCHS data shows overdose deaths actually went up 28.9% from the year before.
The data shows many of these deaths involved fentanyl, a highly lethal opioid. It’s often mixed with other drugs, which is one reason why deaths from methamphetamine and cocaine are also on the rise, The Associated Press reports.
In a statement about the “tragic milestone,” President Joe Biden said the U.S. cannot overlook the drug epidemic as it makes strides in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we grieve those we’ve lost and honor their memories, my administration is committed to doing everything in our power to address addiction and end the overdose epidemic,” wrote Biden. “Through the American Rescue Plan, we’ve delivered nearly $4 billion to strengthen and expand services for substance use disorder and mental health.”
Biden said his administration is working to make health coverage more accessible and affordable. He also said the White House is strengthening prevention, promoting harm reduction, expanding treatment, and supporting people in recovery, as well as reducing the supply of harmful substances in the U.S.
“To all those families who have mourned a loved one and to all those people who are facing addiction or are in recovery: you are in our hearts, and you are not alone. Together, we will turn the tide on this epidemic,” said Biden.
The NCHS provided the graphic below that illustrates the drug overdoses in the U.S.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay said it's also seeing an increase in phone calls.
“Pre-pandemic we were averaging about 64 calls a day from individuals across the state looking for help and support. Number one was usually opioid, number two was methamphetamine cocaine, some sort of stimulant," said Clara Reynolds, CEO of Crisis Center Tampa Bay.
That number has now increased by 102% with the statewide substance abuse hotline fielding nearly 130 calls a day.
“Many of them disclosed you know what I’ve been clean and sober for five years, 10 years, 15 years, the stress of the pandemic, my coping mechanisms that I’ve been utilizing all this time, I just couldn’t do them anymore," Reynolds said. "It is impacting so many individuals and once folks are clean they talk about the fact that they don’t want to do this. But this addiction is so unbelievably powerful and strong.”
In Florida, from April of 2020 to April of 2021, 7,769 people overdosed and died. That is slightly under what was predicted, according to the CDC, but the numbers prove the country has a major crisis on its hands.
Nearly two weeks ago, the St. Petersburg Police Chief, Anthony Holloway, announced the department arrested more than 20 people and confiscated 286.1 grams of Fentanyl. He believes that undoubtedly saved lives.
"Two milligrams of fentanyl is considered a potentially lethal dose. If you did the math, we confiscated over 143 lethal doses of fentanyl in our city. The population of the city is 270,000, so think about that," he said.