Drug overdose deaths up 30% in 2020 in U.S

I added it to my non-COVID (ha!) mortality thread in the Life section, but I thought people might want to discuss this outside the professional areas.

This is super-bad.

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fentanyl, likely

Here are some pre-2020 data:

Yes, it’s fentanyl.

CDC data just for drug overdoses deaths:

the problem with unregulated drugs

overdose is mostly due to laced drugs, people generally know the amount that they can handle if the drug they use is consistent

Yes, truly it is sad that heroin isn’t regulated.

Yes, regulated heroin would be a hell of a lot safer that what we now have on the streets.

Curious that I don’t see much correlation between states hit with bad covid and drug overdoses. Nor with states that had a lot of restrictions, for that matter.

The correlations I see are with states that had a bad drug problem 2015-2019.

I think this is mainly supply routes for fentanyl. Reminds me of one particular town in NC that was notorious as a way station for the drug trade up I-95.

I forgot to plug my blog post in this thread:

Grabbing two of the graphs – the year-over-year change in drug overdose deaths: (note, not the change in age-adjusted death rates… I’ll be breaking this down more later)

And here’s the breakout by “intent” –

It’s been accidental drug overdoses driving the trend, which are lumped into “unintentional injuries” when they do the big categories of causes of death. That means it’s lumped in with falls (mostly old folks) and traffic accidents.

That is really not a helpful analysis when one says “unintentional injuries as a cause of death were up 11% in 2020” (which they were.) Car crash deaths were up, I don’t have these data but I bet falls as a cause of death were down, and we now know drug overdoses overall were up. Supposedly suicide went down 6% in 2020.

makes sense

If it’s the unregulated drugs that are the problem, what are the chances of restrictions on narcotics prescriptions being relaxed?

It’s a major PITA to get an Rx for hydrocodone these days. I rarely need it for my back, but when I need it, I need it. I still have some stashed away, but it’s getting really old at this point and losing its efficacy. It will either run out or stop working altogether at some point in the not-too-distant future at which point I’m going to have a problem.

The Economist:

Guys, almost all these drug overdoses are on illegal drugs, almost all are due to heroin (or whatever opioids) laced with fentanyl.

This is not about regulation. I was making a very grim joke.

Anyway, I am about to go do a CDC WONDER data request, and in the mean time, here are the killing doses of various opiates/opioids:

  • The lethal dose of fentanyl is generally stated to be 2 milligrams. This lethal dose considers that the individual has not developed significant tolerance; however, even in individuals with significant tolerance, the lethal dose of fentanyl is extremely small compared to the potential lethal doses of many other opiate drugs.
  • Morphine doses of over 200 mg are considered to be lethal. Individuals with hypersensitivity to opiate drugs may experience lethal effects from significantly lower amounts, and individuals with tolerance may need extremely high amounts of morphine before they experience lethal overdose effects.
  • The lethal dose for heroin is generally reported as being between 75 and 375 mg.
  • The lethal dose for hydrocodone is generally stated to be around 90 mg. However, taking hydrocodone with acetaminophen (e.g., as in Vicodin and other medications) can result in lethal effects occurring at lower doses.
  • A single dose of 40 mg or more of oxycodone may produce lethal effects in some individuals. Individuals who take controlled-release forms of oxycodone and take more than 80 mg per day may experience overdose effects if they have not developed significant tolerance.

Note the bolded line.

Okay, I’ll make a graph for y’all, but in the meantime, this is the data draw I did:

I’ll be back with a graph in a few minutes.


a better graph:

I did a twitter thread here:

My high-level observations

– I think the groups at top w/ steep rise since 2015 are the main death-by-fentanyl group. That is 25-54 years old (though it’s a bit jagged for the 45-54 group)
– the older folks - age 55-64 - have a steady rise, and that could be due to getting hooked on oxy after surgery, etc.
– there is an increase for age 65-74, but it’s not much.

I’m using the UCD database, so it’s only those where the ultimate cause of death is accidental drug overdose. The likelihood is, if those over age 65 die of drug overdose, it was probably due to treatment for a condition (like cancer) and that condition was recorded as the UCD.

Thanks for compiling.

What do you mean?

If drugs were easily accessible, people wouldn’t resort to street drugs.

It’s not just opioids that can be laced.

Cocaine, ketamine, ecstasy, can all be laced.

The more fentanyl that gets into this country (and it’s easy because you only require such a small amount for the same effect as heroin and morphine), the more the streets drugs get contaminated.

Opioids are especially dangerous because it interacts with other drugs like alcohol exponentially.

It kind of is about regulation. A lot of people are driven to street drugs because they got cut off of regulated drugs. And then a careless dealer can sell them an overdose and kill them.

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[citation needed]

I’m pretty sure those age 25-54 driving the main accidental drug overdose death trend are not in that situation because they couldn’t get oxy easily after surgery.

I don’t know about the percentages, but I’ve certainly considered it. My doctor is afraid to write me Rx’s for hydrocodone for car accidents that happened in years gone by.

Hubby has some left over from a surgery… he likes to be a tough guy and take little to no pain meds, so I have his. Technically my stash is illicitly obtained as it is, but safe for me to take since it went directly from the pharmacy to our house.

And I’m age 25-54.

People like me probably aren’t the primary driver, but I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Guys, I am not going to argue anecdata.

I will see if I can find more info on this beyond individual experiences. I have my own assumptions as you can see above, which obviously could be wrong.

What are you even doing here, then? :wink: