Over 109,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses in the 12 months ending in January 2023, representing a slight increase of 0.7% compared to the previous year.
Fentanyl, a highly potent opioid, has played a significant role in the opioid crisis and the surge in drug overdoses in the U.S. It is 50 times stronger than heroin and is increasingly mixed in with other illegal drugs.
Despite efforts by President Joe Biden’s administration to address drug addiction and overdoses, the numbers continue to rise, Reuters reported citing recent provisional data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is important to note that the latest numbers provided by the CDC are estimates, accounting for underreporting and pending investigation of cases.
In May, the administration imposed sanctions on 17 individuals and entities in China and Mexico accused of facilitating the production of counterfeit fentanyl-laced pills.
“During the pandemic, rates of mental illness, depression, and anxiety significantly increased, leading more people to turn to substances,” Tom Britton, CEO of American Addiction Centers said.
Between January 2021 and January 2022, drug overdose deaths in the U.S. rose by 13.7%, and in the previous 12 months, during the peak of the pandemic, the increase was 31.4%. However, the surge in overdose deaths predates the pandemic and can be attributed to the abuse of prescription opioid painkillers and illegal drugs such as heroin.
Stacey McKenna, a senior fellow at the independent think tank R Street Institute, pointed out that the crackdown on fentanyl and other addictive drugs may have unintended consequences, explaining that the more stringent the supply-side measures, the more likely it is for a more potent and dangerous supply to emerge, highlighting the iron law of prohibition.
“There’s this iron law of prohibition that the harder you crack down on the supply, the more likely you are to get a more potent supply or a more dangerous supply,” McKenna said.
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Edited by Rachmad Imam Tarecha and Joseph Hammond