Preliminary government statistics released on Wednesday revealed that about 110,000 individuals in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2016, a shocking number that yet marked a plateau after two years of steep growth.
Overdose fatalities were anticipated to have claimed the lives of 109,179 persons in 2021, hence the preliminary total of 109,680 was only slightly higher than the number for 2021. The rates of mortality from overdoses were much higher in 2021 compared to the previous year, rising by about 17% and 30% respectively.
White House drug policy chief Dr. Rahul Gupta released a statement on Wednesday praising the Biden administration’s efforts to curb overdose deaths.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that may be difficult to detect because it is often combined with stimulants and other medications. The recently disclosed statistics provided the most recent indication of the devastating consequences of fentanyl. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 75,000 fatalities in 2015 were related to synthetic opioids.
The six-figure death toll is more evidence that our country’s work to repair the harm done by the drug supply chain is incomplete. One of the major causes of mortality in the United States is accidental drug overdose, which has led to a decline in life expectancy. Mixing fentanyl with other medications available in the country, such as the inexpensive and highly addictive animal tranquillizer xylazine, has increased the risks associated with opiate addiction.
Last month, the Office of National Drug Control Policy identified xylazine as a “emerging drug threat,” mandating that the Biden administration develop a coordinated strategy to counteract the drug’s proliferation throughout the country.
Officials stressed that the estimated number of fatalities caused by opioids in 2022 might alter when the federal government evaluates more mortality information from states. A spokeswoman for the CDC has said that the exact tally for 2022 will not be released until later this year or early in 2019.
According to Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor of family and community health at the University of California, San Francisco, the new data showing fatalities levelled out last year represents a “potential bending of this historically high curve.”
However, Dr. Ciccarone cautioned that “one can’t be utterly optimistic that this is a signal of a permanent change.” He expressed concern about the rising number of fatalities caused by the use of fake tablets containing fentanyl.
Many of the measures the Biden administration has advocated for in an effort to decrease the number of fatalities caused by drug overdoses fall under the umbrella term “harm reduction,” which advocates for the adoption of methods that make drug usage less dangerous.
Naloxone, an overdose-reversing medicine that is currently available over the counter, is a vital aspect of the plan. Overdose deaths decreased in states that had been particularly aggressive in deploying the medication, including Arizona, Utah, and West Virginia, according to Nabarun Dasgupta, a scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has studied naloxone use in the United States.
Public health professionals also attest to the life-saving effects of drug testing equipment, such as fentanyl test strips, which sound an alarm if the substance is present in a given sample.
Early in 2019, the organisation intends to launch the first state-approved supervised drug use facility. Ms. Daley Ndoye has said that drug testing equipment would likely be present at the venue.