Drug Overdose Now Leading Cause of Death for Americans Under 50
The numbers are in. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.
Not car crashes or cardiovascular disease… drug overdoses.
To put the opioid crisis in perspective:
Opioid deaths have now surpassed:
Comparing those numbers to recent tragedies like the Pulse Night Club Attack, there would have to be three mass shootings every day for 365 days to roughly equate to the number of drug overdoses in 2015.
Officials across the country declare the drug overdose epidemic as a public health crisis. In the past decade or so, the numbers of fatalities related to drug overdoses have soared.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein officially announced the statistic on drug overdoses Tuesday to the media. Chuck Rosenberg, acting head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and other prominent officials in law enforcement also addressed the media at the DEA’s headquarters in Arlington, VA.
“We’re not talking about a slight increase. There’s a horrifying surge of drug overdoses in the United States of America. Some people say we should be more permissive, more tolerant, more understanding about drug use. I say we should be more honest and forthcoming with the American people on the clear and present danger that we know face,” opened Rosenstein.
“Fentanyl is especially dangerous. It is 40 to 50 times more deadly than heroin. Just two milligrams, a few grains of salt, an amount you could fit on the tip of your finger, can be lethal. Fentanyl exposure can injure or kill innocent law enforcement officers and first responders. Inhaling a few airborne particles can have dramatic effects,” he continued.
Despite such a bleak update, there was an air of optimism. Rosenberg spoke extensively with his Chinese counterparts in law enforcement about reducing fentanyl distribution. China is the major source of fentanyl that enters America. According to Rosenberg, the Chinese government banned 116 synthetic opioids for export and four more after his trip to China this March. Additional synthetics are scheduled for banning in the future.
“I do not want to understate such gains, nor do I want to overstate them,” he cautioned.
Still, we need more progress in international cooperation, he explained.
Rosenberg and other law enforcement officials assessed the challenges behind training first responders and admit that such efforts would stretch the limited resources available for fighting such an overwhelming epidemic.
Rosenberg’s daunting assessment of fentanyl put in perspective the existential danger of the ongoing opioid crisis. Rosenberg continues to reiterate the paths made thus far, but there is much more progress needed to improve the dire situation.
Overall, it is difficult to fully grasp the scope of the opioid epidemic. These statistics often “wash over” our minds, Rosenberg admits. If you or someone you know is currently struggling with opioid addiction, you know more than anyone how tragic and helpless it can be. Those who do not have a personal experience often struggle to understand these numbers.
However, the numbers do not lie. In Florida alone, every 15 hours last year, someone died of an opioid overdose in Palm Beach County, nearly double the rate of murders and fatal car crashes.
Addiction is a disease and needs treatment. We need to raise awareness, not stigma. More and more people are losing their lives to overdoses. The stigma has to end. If you are someone you know is struggling with drugs or alcohol abuse, please call now. You are not alone. You need help. Call today.