A record 105,000 Americans died of a drug overdose from October 2020 to 2021

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The United States’ drug epidemic set another grim record in October, per recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The agency revealed that an estimated 105,752 Americans died of a drug overdose between October 2020 to October 2021, the most ever recorded in a 12 month period. It was also the fourth straight month where a record for year-over-year drug overdose deaths was set.

It is also represents a 16 percent increase in overdose deaths within the past year. 

A vast majority of these deaths are being caused by opioids, and mainly synthetic opioids like fentanyl that have torn through the U.S. in recent years.

The CDC reports that 79,481  deaths were caused by opioids, with 87 percent caused by synthetic versions of the drug.

America’s drug overdose was already spiraling out of control before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the disruptions to every day life, social isolation, and loss suffered by some Americans due to the virus has created the perfect storm to exacerbate the situation.

A group of four men overdosed on fentanyl over the weekend. Pictured, law enforcement officials work the scene in the 1600 block of Southwest 40th Terrace near Fort Lauderdale on Sunday

A group of four men overdosed on fentanyl over the weekend. Pictured, law enforcement officials work the scene in the 1600 block of Southwest 40th Terrace near Fort Lauderdale on Sunday

Researchers say that while lockdown orders were successful at preventing transmission of the virus, they also closed resources homeless people could have used to deal with drug overdose. The lockdown order was the start of when homeless deaths began to surge

Researchers say that while lockdown orders were successful at preventing transmission of the virus, they also closed resources homeless people could have used to deal with drug overdose. The lockdown order was the start of when homeless deaths began to surge

A study performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, finds that people experiencing homelessness are an example of those that were hard struck by drug overdose deaths last year.

Deaths doubled among the group during the first year of the pandemic, with Covid not responsible for any of the increase. Instead it as drugs, and mainly fentanyl, to blame.

Fentanyl has ruined spring break for some revelers in Florida as well, with at least ten overdoses on the drug being reported over the past week. As of Friday afternoon, none of the overdoses have resulted in death.

Last week, four people were hospitalized after using fentanyl-laced cocaine in Broward County. 

Two of the four went into cardiac arrest and were then given mouth-to-mouth by the other pair, who then also became exposed to fentanyl and had to be hospitalized.

Fire rescue crews found the men, aged between 26 and 39, in the Fort Lauderdale home that contained ‘drug residue’, on Sunday. 

Their hospitalizations come days after after six military cadets from West Point also overdosed from fentanyl while in the state celebrating spring break. Several of them went into cardiac arrest and were taken to hospital.

The CDC report revealed that the states in the Midwest and Appalachian regions of the country are dealing the brunt of America’s overdose problem.

West Virginia is still far and away suffering the biggest drug overdose issue in America, with 85.3 out of every 100,000 residents dying from an overdose during the time span included in the report.

Other states in the region like Tennessee, which recorded 55.6 deaths per 100,000 residents, Pennsylvania, 55.4 deaths, and Kentucky, at 53.5 deaths, are among the leaders as well.

The Department of Health and Human Services has specifically targeted the Appalachian region as an area of concern during the nation’s opioid crisis, as rural areas in these states have been hard struck by the opioid crisis.

It is also harder for many of these people to receive treatment when they overdose, as they often live much further from hospitals and urgent care facilities than a person in an urban or suburban environment.

Combine these factors with growing poverty in the area, and now a pandemic that left millions out of work and isolated from their communities, and many people unfortunately allowed drug use to spiral out of control and cause their eventual death.

The states with the lowest number of opioid deaths per 100,000 residents are South Dakota (10.7), Nebraska (11.3), Iowa (14) and New York (15.5). 

Some states have experienced worrying surges of overdose deaths over the past year as well.

Alaska logged a 78 percent jump in deaths from 2020 to 2021, the most of any state according to CDC data. Vermont was right behind with a 48 percent increase.

A total of 11 states recorded increases of 30 percent or more, a massive surge over the course of only one year.

These increases during the pandemic are likely tied to the devastating social isolation caused by early lockdowns.

Black Americans (yellow) surpassed White Americans (gray) in opioid deaths per 100,000 residents for the first time since 2001 in 2020, as the racial group bore the brunt of a record opioid surge

Black Americans (yellow) surpassed White Americans (gray) in opioid deaths per 100,000 residents for the first time since 2001 in 2020, as the racial group bore the brunt of a record opioid surge

Black Americans (yellow) suffered a 49% increase in drug overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020, the highest of any group. Every single racial group suffered an increased of 25% or more (dotted line marks start of COVID-19 pandemic)

Black Americans (yellow) suffered a 49% increase in drug overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020, the highest of any group. Every single racial group suffered an increased of 25% or more (dotted line marks start of COVID-19 pandemic)

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 41 percent of Americans reported having mental health issues in January 2021, a figure that dwarfs the 11 percent rate from before the pandemic.

The rise was especially noticeable among people that had recently lost a job due to Covid or made an annual salary of less that $40,000 per year.

Researchers at KFF also found a clear correlation between people reporting increased levels of depression and anxiety during Covid and their likelihood to abuse drugs.

Some states did record a decline in overdose deaths, though, a sign that things did not degrade everywhere in America over the past year.

New Hampshire (five percent drop in overdose deaths), Hawaii (four percent), Delaware (three percent), Wyoming (two percent) all saw death rates drop from September 2020 to 2021, the CDC reports.

The U.S. eclipsed the 100,000 annual overdose deaths total for the first time between April 2020 and 2021, a grave milestone for the nation after a full year of the pandemic.

‘As we continue to make strides to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot overlook this epidemic of loss, which has touched families and communities across the country,’ President Joe Biden said when the data was revealed in November.

‘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.’ 

Since then, the 100,000 overdose death mark has been reached in every single report.

Opioids (black) make up nearly 80% of drug overdose deaths in the U.S., and synthetic opioids like fentanyl (brown) make up a large portion of overall opioid deaths

Opioids (black) make up nearly 80% of drug overdose deaths in the U.S., and synthetic opioids like fentanyl (brown) make up a large portion of overall opioid deaths

Opioids, and specifically synthetic opioids like fentanyl, are most at fault for the surging overdose deaths.

An estimated 79,481 deaths were caused by the drugs over the 12-month period, with 69,425 being attributed to synthetics like fentanyl. Semi-synthetic opioids were responsible for 13,706. 

The next leading cases were psychostimulants, causing 30,922 deaths, followed by 22,691 deaths from cocaine and just over 10,000 deaths caused by heroin.

Black Americans suffered the brunt of these recent drug overdoses, a study by researchers from the University of Califronia, Los Angeles, found.

The research team found that Black Americans suffered a 49 percent increase in deaths per 100,000 residents between 2019 and 2020, up to 36.8 from 24.7. 

While drug overdoses have long been associated with white Americans, and still are devastating to that group, black Americans are now the race in America suffering the most deaths per capita after surpassing white people at the start of the pandemic.

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