The prevalence of mental health issues increased during the coronavirus pandemic due to several factors including lack of access to health care and disconnection from friends and family. Amid the rising mental health problems, the number of deaths related to drug overdose also rose to an all-time high number in the US.
According to a report published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these fatalities increased by 30% in the US during the pandemic year 2020.
The National Center for Health Statistics of the CDC released data that shows nearly 93,000 people lost their lives to drug overdose over the past year. The cases rose from 72,151 in 2019, which is a 29.4% increase in the number of deaths.
According to the NCHS, deaths related to overdose increased in 2020 as compared to 2019. Most of these deaths are linked to the overdose of psychostimulants and synthetic opioids. Moreover, the fatalities related to the overuse of cocaine and prescription medications also increased over the past year.
Dr. Nora Volkow, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) director said that this number of deaths is the largest since 1999. She mentioned that the coronavirus pandemic led to various health crises in the US.
According to Dr. Volkow, it is an uncertain time all across the world and many people started drug consumption due to the stressful situation. Moreover, they lack access to treatments that may save their lives and fall prey to a drug overdose. She also said that the treatment options for drug abuse should be widely available to those in need amid the pandemic.
The former deputy commission from the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Joshua Sharfstein also said that the coronavirus pandemic played a role in the rise of overdose-related deaths. However, the number of coronavirus cases dropped over the past few months. Yet, we have to deal with the opioid crisis.
The opioid crisis in the US worsened over the past decades. The issue became the topic of discussion in the US Congress repeatedly. Some of the congress members put the blame on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for regulating the use of synthetic opioids. Also, some people blame the doctors for repeatedly prescribing these drugs in the first place.
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According to Sharfstein, the FDA can play a role in controlling the opioid crisis in the US. He said that the federal authority can take strict action and regulate the prescription of these drugs. In addition, the medical community can also play a role to decrease opioid addiction. If the doctors do not prescribe these drugs to the patient, the drug addiction cases may reduce in the community.
The experts stress reducing the prescription of some drugs to prevent the risk of overdose. Many people who receive these drugs become addicted to them and go no the route of overdose. The alarmingly high number of death related to overdose calls for strict action against overprescribing these drugs in the US.