More People Died Of Drug Overdoses Last Year Than Ever Before In US
The data for the 12-month period ending last June showed 81,003 deaths, a 20% increase over the previous year. Separate research found that weekly counts of all drug overdoses were up to 45% higher in 2020 than in 2019.
During Covid-19 Pandemic, Overdose Deaths Reached New Heights
Among the unrelenting death statistics flowing from the CDC last month, one grim non-Covid-19 statistic stood out: 81,003 deaths. That’s the number of people who died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending last June: a 20% increase and the highest number of fatal overdoses ever recorded in the U.S. in a single year. (McFarling, 2/16)
COVID Pandemic Sends More People To ER For Drug Overdoses
Many Americans stayed away from the emergency room when the nation went under lockdown for fear of contracting COVID-19 at the hospital. While this led to an overall decline in emergency department visits, a recent study shows weekly trips to the ER for drug overdoses were higher in 2020 than in 2019. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied more than 180 million ER visits from Dec. 30, 2018, to Oct. 10, 2020, and found that weekly counts of all drug overdoses were up to 45% higher in 2020 than in 2019, according to the study published Feb. 3 in the peer-reviewed JAMA Psychiatry. Opioid overdoses, specifically, increased about 29% compared with before the pandemic. (Rodriguez, 2/15)
In other news about America's drug epidemic —
Doctors Who Say No To Opioid Use Face Threats From Patients
One patient threatened to shoot Dr. Terry Hunt if physical therapy didn’t relieve his pain as effectively as opioids did. Another harassed his staff, then roamed a hospital searching for Hunt after being told he would be weaned off painkillers he had used inappropriately. Hunt was unharmed, but shaken enough to ask the central Illinois hospital system where he worked to dismiss both patients. So when he heard about Tuesday’s attack at a medical clinic in Buffalo, Minnesota, that left one person dead and four injured, “the first thing I assumed is that it was something to do with pain medication,” said Hunt, who now works for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and a Mayo Clinic Health System facility in Red Wing, Minnesota. (Webber, 2/14)
As Addiction Deaths Surge, Profit-Driven Rehab Industry Faces 'Severe Ethical Crisis'
As the nation's addiction crisis deepened, Tamara Beetham, who studies health policy at Yale University, set out to answer a simple question: What happens when people try to get help? Her first step was to create a kind of undercover identity — a 26-year-old, using heroin daily. Using this fictional persona, her research team called more than 600 residential treatment centers all over the country. "We'd kind of call and say, I'm looking to, you know, start treatment and kind of go from there," Beetham said. For people suffering addiction, this can be a life-or-death moment. Studies show that getting high-quality medical care can make a huge difference, leading to long-term recovery and a healthier life. So what Beetham's team found was troubling. (Mann, 2/15)