When you think of American deaths, you tend to think of gun control or water quality or other social issues.
There are many social issues in the US which need to be dealt with, like hunger, malnutrition and emergency relief, but new statistics reveal the number one cause of death for under 50s in the US – drug deaths.
In Ohio alone, drug overdose deaths in 2016 were as high as 59,000. This is the largest jump between years ever recorded in the whole of the USA, according to The New York Times.
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As those who watched Louis Theroux a couple of weeks ago will know, opiod addiction is a major health crisis in the US thanks to readily available painkillers and a deadly influx of fentanyl and similar drugs.
Fentanyl is a synthetically manufactured drug which is much much more potent than heroin, and also more deadly.
The data which supports this claim has been compiled by The New York Times, and the figures suggest the instances of drug related deaths increased by around 19 per cent over 2015.
Even worse, indicators are suggesting the problem has worsened this year, so much so Donald Trump is set to announce a ‘public health emergency’ in response to the crisis.
Apparently, drug deaths take a while to certify for a number of different reasons, which means up to date data is hard to come by. As a result the best data is from the previous year.
The New York Times said:
We can say with confidence that drug deaths rose a great deal in 2016, but it is hard to say precisely how many died or in which places drug death rose most steeply.
Because of the delay associated with toxicology reports and inconsistencies in the reported data, our exact estimate – 62,497 total drug overdose deaths – could vary from the true number by several thousand.
The data points to large increases in OD deaths in states including Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine as well as Ohio.
In Summit County, there were 312 drug deaths in 2016, the county medical examiner’s chief investigator told The New York Times. This marks a 46 per cent increase from 2015 and more than triple the cases from 2014 just two years before.
There were so many deaths, the county had to order refrigerated trailers because the morgue was full.
That’s not to say all of these deaths are heroin, in fact in some parts of Ohio deaths from heroin have pretty much gone down to zero. The major cause of these deaths is fentanyl.
The synthetic drug has become much more ubiquitous in recent years, and is sold on the streets as heroin – though it is much cheaper to produce.
An extreme example of fentanyl is carfentanyl, which is roughly 5000 times stronger than heroin.
In Akron, Ohio July 5th 2016 is cited as the day when carfentanyl hit its streets. According to the Narcotics Unit for the police department, 17 people overdosed and one person died in the small span of nine hours.
The data suggests it is the East which is shouldering the brunt of the drug related death increases, with states in the West actually levelling off or declining.