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Drug overdose deaths increased by more than 20,000 people in 2020


Drug overdose deaths increased by more than 20,000 people in 2020 over 2019, and is the largest recorded number of overdose deaths to date according to preliminary numbers by the CDC. There are a number of factors contributing to this increase. 

The isolation and unknowns of Covid-19 during 2020 contributed to people being home more, as well as presenting a challenge to those who need to seek help for substance use disorders and mental health disorders. Additionally, the continued increase in fentanyl distribution has increased this drug making its way into mixes with other drugs such as cocaine, heroine, and methamphetamine. We are also seeing a larger number of people who would not consider themselves to have a substance use disorder, but are prescribed a number of medications for various reasons, overdosing. Often times this can be avoided simply by having one doctor oversee medication management to monitor dosages and potential risk for accidental overdoses.

2021 has continued to see an increase in overdose deaths, especially among blacks and hispanics and particularly in the South and West. Opioid overdoses continue to be the highest incidences of overdoses.

Additional training on potential life-saving drugs such as NARCAN (naloxone) are needed for the general public, especially those who are in contact with those who have substance use disorders. Additionally, pressure is being put on emergency rooms to better train, equip and hold accountable doctors and staff to assist those who frequent emergency rooms with overdoses and other substance use disorder health-related treatment issues.

Continuing to raise awareness and reducing the stigma associated with substance use disorders (addiction) and mental health disorders will hopefully lead to more individuals getting access to proper care and treatment and reducing the number of overdose deaths in the future.

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