There was a record of more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. from May 2019 to May 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It is definitely alarming to say the least. I first saw this number in an article that came out just a few days ago in the Washington Post. It definitely confirms what we have feared. Drug overdose deaths are up in 46 states and 18% overall from the previous year,” said Carlos Briano the Public Information Officer for the Drug Enforcement Administration El Paso Division.
Briano says the rise in drug use can be attributed to isolation, depression, anxiety and economic distress from the pandemic. But he attributes deaths to synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl or heroin, which have increased.
“We’re also seeing cocaine overdoses, often when it’s co-used or mixed with fentanyl or heroin,” he said. “And, we’re also seeing increases in deaths linked to psychostimulants like meth.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have made some recommendations like broader distribution of overdose-blocking medications and expanding prevention and treatment for those struggling with drug use.
Briano says the Drug Enforcement Agency also has available resources on its website in a community outreach section. He says to secure medications, not to share them and to dispose of them properly.
Residents can also call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP to receive guidance. It’s a free, bi-lingual, 24/7, confidential, treatment referral and information service hotline for individuals and families facing substance abuse. Don’t put it off; call 1-800-662-HELP before it’s too late.
For more information visit www.dea.gov.