“What we’re seeing are the effects of these patterns of crisis and the appearance of more dangerous drugs at much lower prices.”
– Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data showing a record-high number of drug overdoses during the last year.
The CDC estimates there were 100,306 drug overdoses in the United States between April 2020 and April 2021—nearly a third (28.5%) greater than the 12-month period before this timeframe.
Opioid deaths were especially pronounced during the 2020-2021 period, contributing to 75,673 of the reported overdose cases. That’s nearly 20,000 more opioid deaths than the previous year.
Data related to opioid deaths include those stemming from natural, semi-synthetic or synthetic opioids. Notably, drugs from these categories include fentanyl and prescription pain medication.
Drug overdoses have been rising steadily for years due to a variety of factors. During this latest reporting period, it can be concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic played a role, but that doesn’t mean opioid deaths will suddenly start declining.
As the data shows, the drugs being abused aren’t always illicit, and, in many cases, they are prescription medications. In fact, legal opioids can be found prescribed to employees in a significant number of workplaces across the country. As such, there is no indication that opioid deaths will slow significantly after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
Employers can play a key role in educating employees about potential opioid abuse. Visit the CDC website for more information on recovery from opioid addiction.
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