Florida’s drug overdose levels reached staggering new heights last year, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported today.
In 2019, 5,524 overdoses were reported in Florida. In 2020, that number jumped to 7,555-—a 37% increase.
That’s about 8% more than the national numbers, which saw a 29.4% in overdose deaths, totaling more than 93,000 this year as opposed to 72,151 in 2019. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says it’s the highest number of overdose deaths recorded in a year.
While Florida's numbers land above the national average, states like West Virginia (55.6%) South Carolina (52.8%), and California (43.7%) also saw devastating increases in their overdose deaths.
The CDC says that some of the data is provisional and that the numbers reflect an estimated death count due to overdose.
Overdoses increased across all drug types, too.
"Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in 2020 compared to 2019. Cocaine deaths also increased in 2020, as did deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as prescription pain medication)," the National Center for Health Statistics wrote in a press release.
While overdose deaths were already increasing before COVID-19, the latest data shows a disturbing increase during the pandemic.
As Reuters reports, “Social distancing limited access to programs that offer needle exchange, opioid substitution therapy or safe injection sites where observers could deploy the overdose antidote Narcan, leaving many addicts to die alone.”
And during stay-at-home orders, addicts were unable to attend support group meetings in person or visit their therapists for live one-on-one sessions.
Florida, which was hard hit by the pandemic but implemented social distancing rules for a less amount of time than many other states, has battled with an opioid crisis for many years now. In 2018, The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported, “Opioids were involved in 46,802 (a rate of 14.6%) overdose deaths in 2018—nearly 70% of all overdose deaths.”
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