Street Drugs Are Our Biggest Problem

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Unlike 20 Years Ago, Prescriptions Are Not The Major Culprit

2020 was the worst year ever, to that point, for drug overdoses. Over 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020, one of the most recent full years we have exact statistics for. That number increased by over 20,000 in one year, as 2019 saw around 70,000 overdose deaths. The trajectory was clear. The segment of overdose statistics that is not starkly up in recent years is prescription drugs.

Prescription painkiller deaths increased every year up until 2017, before we saw a decline, however the skyrocketing numbers of fentanyl and heroin overdose deaths far surpass prescription drug deaths at this point, and methamphetamine deaths have sharply increased. Fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine represent over 90% of overdoses and overdose deaths in the United States. These drugs also represent some of the toughest cases we see in inpatient drug and alcohol treatment at Florida Springs Wellness and Recover Center.

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Current State of the Street Drug Problem

This is the current problem, and it has existed and been worsening since before the pandemic. With the addition of fentanyl, fentanyl derivatives like carfentanil, and xylazine, which we discussed recently on the blog, overdoses from street drugs are an overwhelmingly large problem. The numbers of Americans dying from drugs simply dwarf anything we have seen at any other time in history. Deaths from overdoses during the crack epidemic of the 1980s would barely be a footnote when compared to the deaths we are seeing in 2023. The current numbers for the crisis we are in are not fully known yet, but I can share some basic facts from the last few years at the end of this article.

The best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida is Florida Springs in Panama City. The only way out of this terrible problem is treatment for everyone who needs it, and unlike many of the top drug and alcohol rehab facilities, we accept Medicaid in addition to private insurance and self-pay.

  1. In 2021, 107,000 people died from overdose in the US. 53,000 of those overdose deaths had stimulant involvement, meaning opioids represent most overdose deaths in the US, but almost half include some stimulant involvement. (This is primarily fentanyl mixed with stimulants bought on the street.)
  2. It is estimated that more than 140,000 people (approximately 97,000 men and 43,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, meaning that for the first time ever drug overdoses are threatening to surpass alcohol related deaths, despite alcohol deaths including large numbers of accidental deaths and long-term disease (primarily liver disease) deaths. Drug overdose deaths are also primarily younger people. (NIH 2023)
  3. Both alcohol and drug overdose deaths increased by 20,000 per year in 2020, and 2021, as we headed into the pandemic, but we have not returned to previous levels, with deaths only increasing.
  4. Alcohol Use Disorder is the second most common mental health disorder present when someone commits suicide. 1 in 4 persons who commit suicide are suffering from AUD. Drug addiction (other than alcohol) is the next most likely.
  5. Cocaine overdoses are way up since 2018, but most of those deaths attributed to Cocaine include opioid involvement (Fentanyl).
  6. Drug overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines steadily increased from 1,135 in 1999 to 11,537 in 2017 and declined to 9,711 in 2019. Between 2019 and 2021, deaths rose again to 12,499. This follows the current pattern of decreased or slightly increasing prescription drug deaths, alongside sharply increased deaths from street drugs. (National Institute on Drug Abuse)

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If you or a loved one needs help with substance use disorder, whether it is alcohol or drug addiction, please call Florida Springs today, we are the best drug and alcohol rehab in Florida. It is very possible we could be the best fit for you or your loved one who is seeking addiction treatment around Panama City Florida.

By Tim Cannon