Source: Joel B. Pollak
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that there were 81,230 drug overdose deaths in the year ending May 2020 — a new record, driven by fentanyl, with deaths accelerating during the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.
The report notes “substantial increases in drug overdose deaths across the United States, primarily driven by rapid increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids excluding methadone … likely illicitly manufactured fentanyl.”
It also indicates “a concerning acceleration of the increase in drug overdose deaths, with the largest increase recorded
from March 2020 to May 2020, coinciding with the implementation of widespread mitigation measures for the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Though overdose deaths declined 4.1% from 2017 to 2018, the CDC says, they have recently accelerated. The surge began before the pandemic, but accelerated during the pandemic.
Geographically, there has also been a surge in overdose deaths west of the Mississippi, “consistent with large increases in illicitly manufactured fentanyl availability in western states and increases in fentanyl positivity in clinical toxicology drugs tests in the West after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The CDC recommends, among other measures, that public health officials increase awareness of the risks of taking drugs when alone; making sure that anti-overdose drugs like Narcan (naloxone) are “available and that people who use drugs and their loved ones know how to administer” them; and making sure that people know multiple doses of Narcan may be necessary for highly potent fentanyl.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday that the city had seen nearly four times as many deaths in 2020 from overdoses as from coronavirus.