Bigger Percentage of Americans Affected by Substance Abuse
Preliminary data from investigations into drug overdose deaths last year show that 2017 drug deaths in America will rise even further than the high numbers of the past. The growing drug epidemic is a major aspect of health in the country, and one that remains concerning for all professionals in this field. According to the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C), Dr. Tom Freiden, it is causing a significant decline in overall health and welfare of Americans.
Drug Epidemic Cuts Across Age and Class Divides in America
Related drug overdose deaths are also said to be on the rise, as over 2 million Americans currently suffer from opioid addiction while another 95 million abused prescription painkillers only in the last year. In general, those suffering from substance abuse include teenagers, young adults, and parents who also happen to be lawyers, teachers, and accountants. With higher rates in the middle class, the drug epidemic is affecting everyone from the upper class through the lower class.
Hundreds of Agencies Compile Data That Shows the Increasing Drug Overdose Epidemic
From 2016, the death count expected from drug-related deaths will likely exceed 59,000. This number, which is about a 17% increase from 2015, was obtained from preliminary data gathering done by The New York Times and constitutes the largest jump ever recorded for drug deaths in America.
With decreasing government spending on health care and an escalating crisis in the public health sector, opioid addiction is expected to have an even bigger effect in 2017 and coming years. Drug overdoses, which are currently the leading cause of death among young Americans (50 and under), are said to be made more deadly by the rising inflow of illegally manufactured fentanyl and other opioids, coming in from Mexico through smuggling channels.
Drug Deaths Peak Higher than Gun, H.I.V and Car Crash Deaths
Drug deaths due to overdose in 2016 outnumbered the highest ever recorded deaths from car crashes (1972), gun violence (1993) and H.I.V infection (1995). It is worth nothing that the numbers obtained by the New York Times are an estimate and not the health agencies’ totaled final, since the CDC will take its time to certify all suspected drug deaths and only release final numbers in December of this year. However, the Times compiled their estimates by tracking down hundreds of health departments, medical examiners and coroners in different counties and states across the United States. Several were left out due to unavailable data but from those compiled, they had accounted for about 76% of total overdose deaths in the previous year 2015. All of this points to a modern plague of drug abuse that’s cutting through America rapidly.
Study Finds Higher Rates of Increasing Drug Deaths in the East Coast
In most of the Midwest and Eastern states, from Ohio to Maine, the data reflects that there has been a large increase in cases of drug overdose. Some of the other states that have been largely affected include Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
Recently, the Ohio state government filed a lawsuit against 5 drug companies which they claim to have aided in the drastic rise of the state’s opioid epidemic, which is estimated to have increased by about 25% in 2016. Times reporters interviewed a young man named Cliff Parker, who was on course to build a great life for himself before he was sidetracked by drug addiction and got hooked on heroin. One major thing has caused the region to experience a skyrocketing number of deaths is the blowout from the slow recovery after 2008’s economic recession. Disappearing jobs in many of the industries that keep these cities and towns moving have led to increasing drug abuse and addiction.
Heroin Cases Reduce While Reports of Fentanyl and Carfentanil Abuse Increase
Fentanyl may not be a new drug, but authorities cannot deny its recent surge in seizures and bursts over the past couple of years. Reports of fentanyl abuse doubled in 2016, making it one of the biggest players in the underground market and a leading cause of drug deaths in America. Heroin, on the other hand, which used to be the main player responsible for drug overdose deaths has been observed in much fewer cases recorded recently. In Ohio’s Montgomery County, the actual ratio from tests performed on samples retrieved in overdose cases was positive in 99 cases for fentanyl or its analogues, and only in 3 cases for heroin.
According to law enforcement, fentanyl and fentanyl-type drugs are often sold as heroin to unsuspecting addicts in the street. Drug traffickers have found it more profitable to use counterfeit versions and analogues of the deadly drug like carfentanil in small quantities. Carfentanil, a drug commonly used by vets to tranquilize elephants is lethal even in doses that can’t be observed with the eye. This is particularly concerning to authorities who have a hard time detecting it in field tests and worry about its growing adoption and a choice drug.