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Friday, December 3, 2021

Overdose deaths in the US have surpassed 100,000 in a year, officials say; Minnesota deaths rise 39 percent

NEW YORK. An estimated 100,000 Americans have died of drug overdose in one year – an unprecedented milestone that health officials say is linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and more dangerous drugs.

Overdose deaths have been on the rise for more than two decades, have accelerated in the past two years and, according to new figures released on Wednesday, jumped nearly 30% over the past year.

President Joe Biden called it a “tragic milestone” in a statement, as administration officials have demanded billions of dollars from Congress to tackle the problem.

“This is unacceptable and requires an unprecedented response,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the National Drug Control Policy.

Experts believe the leading causes of overdose deaths are the growing spread of the deadly fentanyl in the illegal drug supply and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left many drug users in social isolation and unable to receive treatment or other support.

“The number is terrifying,” said Catherine Keyes, a drug abuse expert at Columbia University. “This is a scale of overdose deaths that we have not seen in this country.”

Drug overdoses now exceed deaths from car accidents, firearms, and even flu and pneumonia. The total is close to that of diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the country.

Based on the latest available death certificate data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 100,300 Americans have died of drug overdose between May 2020 and April 2021. This is not an official count. An investigation into drug-related deaths can take many months to be final, so the agency has made an estimate based on 98,000 reports received to date.

The CDC previously reported that there were about 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020, the highest in a calendar year. Robert Anderson, head of the CDC’s mortality statistics department, said the number is likely to surpass 100,000 by 2021.

“2021 is going to be a terrible year,” agreed Dr. Daniel Ciccaron, a drug policy expert at the University of California, San Francisco.

New data show that many of the deaths are attributed to illicit fentanyl, a highly lethal opioid that surpassed heroin as the type of drug with the most overdose deaths five years ago. Fentanyl is mixed by traffickers with other drugs, contributing to the rise in deaths from methamphetamines and cocaine.

Drug cartels in Mexico use chemicals from China to mass-produce and distribute fentanyl and methamphetamine across America, said Ann Milgram, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The DEA has seized 12,000 pounds of fentanyl this year, a record amount, Milgram said. But public health experts and even police officials say law enforcement will not stop the epidemic and more needs to be done to reduce demand and prevent deaths.

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The CDC has yet to calculate the race and ethnicity of the overdose victims.


It found that the estimated death toll rose in all but four states – Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey and South Dakota – compared to the same period a year earlier. The states with the largest increases were Vermont (70%), West Virginia (62%), and Kentucky (55%).

Minnesota saw an increase of about 39%, with estimated overdose deaths rising to 1,188 between May 2020 and April 2021 from 858 in the previous 12-month period.

In the Mankato city area, overdose deaths have increased from two in 2019 to six last year to 16 this year, said Police Lieutenant Jeff Versailles, who leads the regional drug task force.

“I honestly don’t think it will get better soon,” he said.

Among the victims of the year was Travis Gustavson, who died in February at the age of 21 in Mankato. Versailles said there were signs of fentanyl, heroin, marijuana and the sedative Xanax in his blood.

Gustavson was close to his mother, two brothers and the rest of his family, his grandmother Nancy Sack said.

According to her, he was known for his light smile. “He could cry when he was a little guy, but if someone smiled at him, he immediately stopped crying and smiled back,” she recalled.

According to Sack, Gustavson first tried drugs as a child and was treated for drug addiction as a teenager. According to her, he struggled with anxiety and depression, but mainly used marijuana and various types of pills.

According to Sack, on the morning of his death, Travis had a tooth pulled out but was not prescribed strong pain relievers because of his drug history. He told his mother that he would just stay at home and get over the pain with ibuprofen. According to her, he was expecting his girlfriend’s visit to watch a movie that evening.

But Gustavson contacted Max Leo Miller, also 21, who police said provided him with a bag of heroin and fentanyl.

Some details of what happened are disputed, but all reports suggest that Gustavson was new to heroin and fentanyl.

Police say Gustavson and Miller have exchanged messages on social media. At one point, Gustavson posted a photograph of a line of white matter on a brown table and asked if he was taking the correct amount, then wrote, “Or more?”

According to the police report, Miller replied, “A smaller bro” and “Be careful, please!”


The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. AP is solely responsible for all content.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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