2020: The Deadliest Year In Drug History – Addiction Center

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by Krystina Murray | January 28, 2021 ❘ 
The year 2020 has not only been deemed the deadliest year in American history but also a dangerous and deadly year for substance abuse. America has been fighting the impact of the Opioid Crisis prior to 2020. While many states lost Americans to drugs like Heroin, Fentanyl, and prescription medications, states like Virginia, Ohio, and Oregon have the highest rates of overdose deaths.
In 2020, numbers of drug overdoses hit an all-time high, with the aforementioned states. Oregon witnessed a 40% “death spike” with 580 fatalities because of illicit chemicals. Use of drugs like Meth increased 37% in a year in Oregon, Cocaine deaths climbed to 57%, Fentanyl deaths contributed to a shocking 92% of deaths, and Heroin reached 9%. Virginia also suffered record highs for drug abuse and fatalities, with 2,035 drug overdoses in 2020, exceeding its record of 1,626 overdoses within a year’s time. Ohio lost 548 individuals to drug abuse in the spring of 2020, increasing in 14 years. Furthermore, the summer months of June and July lost 481 and 442 people in the state.

2020 death tolls have alarmed many and have gained the year the reputation of being the “deadliest year in American history.” Interestingly, the Centers of Disease Control predicted higher numbers of deaths to occur throughout the year. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has ended the lives of over 318,000 Americans in 9 months, is a major influence on high death tolls. While much research is being done to understand the connection between 2020-related substance abuse and the effects of COVID-19, both the pandemic and drug overdoses have greatly contributed to many lost lives in 2020.

In addition to such effects of the pandemic, declining mental health due to COVID-19 infections and adjustments has encouraged more substance abuse to occur. As a result, drug abuse and suicide have contributed to the high number of deaths. Sadly, numbers are expected to rise to 3.2 million by the end of 2020. Lastly, deaths from conditions like dementia, diabetes, and cardiac problems have been also connected to 2020 increases in death.
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Diseases of despair have also been connected to rises in drug abuse, due to the impact of COVID-19. Diseases of despair, which have resulted in suicide, declining mental health (anxiety, depression, loneliness, poor coping mechanisms), financial insecurity, and stress from isolation have caused many to experience new mental health challenges and worsen pre-existing ones. Because of this, some of those affected have turned to self-harm, substance abuse, or have increased their tolerance to or dependence on harmful substances.
Drug statistics have drastically shifted when compared to previous years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “After declining 4.1% from 2017 and 2018, overdoses have increased 18.2% from the 12 months ending in June 2019.” Another source echoes a similar finding. According to United Press International (UPI), drug abuse and suicide rates increased 170% between 2009 and 2018; however the spread of COVID-19 has caused sharp increases in such findings. As a result, studies noticed a 59% increase in alcohol use, increases in Opioid overdoses and rises in suicidal thoughts. Additional statistics include 81,000 reported drug overdoses in a 12-month period during 2020, becoming the highest ever recorded in a year. The awareness is causing media outlets to spread the word in order to educate people. Essential workers in the medical field use Naloxone to try and revive those who overdosed on Opioids.

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Last Edited: September 27, 2021
Krystina Murray
Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.
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