More than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the one-year period ending in April of this year, according to a report from The Associated Press.
Based on available data from death certificates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between May 2020 and April 2021, 100,300 Americans were killed by overdoses. Since reports of drug overdose deaths can take months to be finalized, the count is not official, only an estimate made based on the 98,000 reports the CDC has received so far this year.
The CDC reported about 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020, according to the AP. That number was the highest recorded in a calendar year, but Robert Anderson, the CDC’s chief of mortality statistics, said calendar year 2021 would end with over 100,000 deaths. “2021 is going to be terrible,” Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a drug policy expert at the University of California, San Francisco, told the AP.
Deaths from drug overdoses have been steadily rising for more than 20 years, but they have accelerated in the past two years and jumped nearly 30% in the last year, according to new CDC data. Drug overdoses now account for more annual deaths than car accidents, gun violence, and even respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and influenza. The never-before-seen number is also rapidly approaching the number of deaths from diabetes, currently the seventh-most prevalent cause of death in the country.
Experts cited by the AP blamed the surge in fatal overdoses on the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, which meant drug users were socially isolated and barred from receiving help and treatment for their addictions.
Fentanyl was the other major factor noted by experts. Fentanyl, which surpassed heroin as the most lethal drug in the U.S. in 2016, is rapidly growing in prevalence as it is being mixed in with other legal and illegal drugs. This is also why deaths from cocaine and methamphetamine are also on the rise in recent years.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Mexican drug cartels import pure fentanyl, or the chemical components necessary to produce it, from China or India. The cartels can traffic the pure substance over the border, but many have taken to selling imitation prescription drugs laced with fentanyl. “Traffickers can typically purchase a kilogram of fentanyl powder for a few thousand dollars from a Chinese supplier, transform it into hundreds of thousands of pills, and sell the counterfeit pills for millions of dollars in profit,” the Drug Enforcement Administration said in a report released in 2020, via The Daily Wire.
Already this year, the DEA has seized over 12,000 pounds of fentanyl, according to Anne Milgram, the administrator of the DEA, via The Associated Press. That amount is a record high, and nearly three times the 4,776 pounds seized by the DEA in the entire year 2020.