WASHINGTON (AP) — Drug overdoses killed more than 100,000 people in the United States in 2021, data showed Wednesday, as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a crisis fueled by fentanyl and fake pills online.
Experts say people with substance use disorders have been hit hard by disruptions to daily life, while authorities are seizing record amounts of counterfeit and sometimes deadly drugs in Mexico.
Provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed there were 107,622 deaths in the calendar year, a 15% increase from 93,655 in 2020.
But there were signs that the explosion was abating, with 2021 rising to half what it was a year ago. Overdose deaths increased 30% from 2019 to 2020.
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid developed to treat symptoms of chronic pain, was by far the biggest culprit, responsible for 71,238 deaths.
It was followed by crystal methamphetamines (meth), cocaine, and naturally occurring opioids (such as heroin and morphine).
“It is unacceptable that we lose a life to an overdose every five minutes throughout the day,” Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement.
Last month, the administration of President Joe Biden announced a national drug control strategy to address the crisis centered on untreated addiction and trafficking.
Figures from the 2020 survey showed that among the 41.1 million people in need of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, only 2.7 million (6.5%) had received treatment at a specialized SUD facility. last year.
The administration seeks to expand access to life-saving treatments, such as naloxone, drug test strips and syringe service programs.
He has also called for a budget increase for border control and anti-drug agencies to stem the flow of illegal drugs.