As the War on Drugs Relentlessly Grinds On, Overdose Deaths Relentlessly Mount – Cato Institute

Posted: July 21, 2020 at 12:28 pm

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last January that drug overdoses in 2018 declined by 4.1 percentfrom70,237in 2017 to 67,367in 2018many in the press took that as asign of possible progress in Americas longest war, the war on drugs. However, adeeper look at the data painted avery different picture.

The CDC report stated:

The ageadjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which include drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol, increased from 0.3 per 100,000 standard population in 1999 to 1.0in 2013, 1.8in 2014, 3.1in 2015, 6.2in 2016, 9.0in 2017, and 9.9in 2018. The rate of drug overdose deaths involving heroin increased from 0.7in 1999 to 1.0in 2010, then increased to 4.9in 2016 and 2017. The rate in 2018 (4.7) was lower than in 2017. The rate of drug overdose deaths involving natural and semisynthetic opioids, which include drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, increased from 1.0in 1999 to 3.1in 2009, then increased to 4.4in 2016 and 2017. The rate in 2018 (3.8) was lower than in 2017 The ageadjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving cocaine increased from 1.4 per 100,000 standard population in 1999 to 2.5in 2006, then decreased to 1.3in 2010 and 1.5in 2011. From 2012 through 2018, the rate increased on average by 27% per year to arate of 4.5in 2018. The ageadjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving psychostimulants with abuse potential, which include drugs such as methamphetamine, amphetamine, and methylphenidate, increased from 0.2in 1999 to 0.8in 2012. From 2012 through 2018, the rate increased on average by 30% per year to arate of 3.9in 2018.

While deaths attributed to prescription opioids continued to decline, deaths attributed to heroin overdoses levelled off and those attributed to fentanyl and its analogs continued to increase. Also making abig comeback were deaths related to psychostimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. These data should have been enough evidence to prevent policymakers from cracking open the champagne bottles.

The CDC recently issued its preliminary report on 2019 overdose deaths and the news isnt good. There were roughly 71,000 overdose deaths, anew record. These data predate the COVID-19 crisis, so we can expect matters to get even worse.

Speaking to reporters about the preliminary report, Robert Anderson, who oversees the mortality data for the CDC said, We got it to stall out abit. Now we need to grab on again and not let this get away from us.

This should come as no surprise. A2018 study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found overdose deaths have been growing exponentially since at least the late 1970s and show no sign of deviating from the trend line. The particular drug predominating as the cause of death has changed from time to time, but the death rate marches on relentlessly. Therefore, even if the aggregate overdose data stalled abit in 2018, the underlying forces fueled by dangerous black market drugs that result fromdrug prohibition continue unabated.

One bright spot in the preliminary data: overdoses declined in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, and Rhode Islandstates where harm reduction strategies have gained some traction.

Until drug prohibition ends expect overdoses to continue following the tragic trendline.

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As the War on Drugs Relentlessly Grinds On, Overdose Deaths Relentlessly Mount - Cato Institute

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