As the pandemic swept across the country, a record number of Americans died of drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, according to preliminary data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The more than 100,000 overdose deaths is nearly 30% higher than the 78,000 counted the year before - with much of the blame landing on the availability and potency of synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl - which is up to 50x more potent than heroin, according to Statista, which notes that the CDC has reported more than 60% of overdose deaths last year involved synthetic opioids.
"I believe that no one should die of an overdose simply because they didn’t have access to naloxone," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, adding "Sadly, today that is happening across the country, and access to naloxone often depends a great deal on where you live."
"These are numbers we have never seen before," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who noted that most of the fatalities were among those aged 25 to 55.
"They leave behind friends, family and children, if they have children, so there are a lot of downstream consequences," said Volkow. "This is a major challenge to our society."
Responding to the staggering figure, the Biden administration on Wednesday said that it would expand access to medications such as naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose, according to the New York Times.
As Liberty Nation's Keelin Ferris notes:
The president’s plans so far are treatment based, focusing on recovery or immediate responses to an overdose. He made no mention of ways to keep the drugs from flowing into the country.
The President failed to mention China in his statement on Wednesday, the nation responsible for the immense amount of fentanyl killing Americans every day. Former President Trump frequently criticized China’s high level of exports of fentanyl or the substances used to make it, which are smuggled into the United States through Mexico.
Back in 2018, under pressure from President Trump, President Xi promised to make trading fentanyl a criminal act, punishable to the highest level: the death penalty. However, Xi failed to follow through on that promise, which President Trump routinely blasted him for. So far in 2021, the Drug Enforcement Administration has seized enough fentanyl to kill every member of the United States population.
Unless the United States government can slow and eventually stop the flow of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids into the states and onto the streets, the number of deaths will likely continue to rise. Funding treatment programs goes a long way in helping addicts recover and stay clean, but it is not enough. The federal government needs to take aggressive action in preventing addictions and overdoses in the first place, cutting off the access to drugs in cities and towns across America.