Drug deaths nationwide hit a new record in 2022. 109,680 people died as the fentanyl crisis continued to deepen, according to preliminary data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Eight states saw drug deaths continue to surge by nine percent or more, with the greatest increases of 21 percent coming in Washington state and Wyoming.
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said it's troubling that deaths continue to rise despite the end of disruptions linked to the COVID pandemic.
"That's a very very high level of overdose deaths," Volkow told NPR.
"One could have expected that as many of the challenges imposed by the COVID pandemic were resolved, we would see a deep dive in the number of overdose deaths. It's concerning we have not seen that."
Some states see improvement
There is some good news in this report. Overdose fatalities rose in 2022 at a much slower rate. Some states hard hit by the opioid-fentanyl epidemic also saw significant declines in drug deaths.
Maryland and West Virginia, two states hit hard by the opioid-fentanyl crisis, each reduced fatalities by roughly 7 percent from 2021 to 2022.
"The fact that it does seem to be flattening out, at least at a national level, is encouraging," Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University epidemiology professor whose research focuses on drug use, told the Associated Press.
"But these numbers are still extraordinarily high. We shouldn't suggest the crisis is in any way over."
The White House described these latest numbers as progress, arguing that by slowing the increase in drug deaths, thousands of lives have been saved nationwide.
"We've expanded treatment to millions of Americans, we're improving access to Naloxone to reverse overdoses, and we're attacking the illicit fentanyl supply chain at every choke point," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in a statement.
"As a result, around 19,000 people are still alive and can be there at the dinner table, at birthdays, and at life's most important moments."
Speaking with NPR, Gupta said he believes improvements in access to addiction care, implemented over the last two years, will continue to gain traction.
But he acknowledged only 1 in 10 Americans experiencing addiction currently get medical treatment.
Texas, Washington saw big rise in drug deaths
In real numbers, Texas and Washington state saw the biggest increases in drug fatalities in 2022. Both states suffered roughly 500 additional deaths linked to overdose.
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with the original link: Fentanyl sparks drug overdose record : NPR