The headline above comes from a Sept. 4, 2017, UPI story reporting on new statistics about the growth from drug related overdoses. The article was based upon an August 2017 release from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics. The total number of deaths from drug overdose was over 64,000 in 2016, up from approximately 52,000 overdose deaths in 2015.
The article begins with an ominous statistic stating that “Drug overdose deaths in the United States skyrocketed 21 percent in 2016 from the previous year, accounting for the deaths of approximately 64,000 people, according to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.” They report that some U.S. states had even higher increases in drug overdose deaths with Delaware leading the way at 71 percent, Maryland had the second highest increase at 67 percent, followed by Florida at a 55 percent increase and Virginia with a 38 percent increase in drug overdose deaths. In terms of pure numbers, Florida had the highest number of deaths accounting for 5,167 in 2016.
The largest jump in these overdose deaths is due to the drug Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Over the past three years, Fentanyl overdose deaths have risen by 540 percent. Fentanyl deaths alone accounted for over 20,000 of the total number of overdoses.
In July of 2017, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency called Fentanyl a “global crisis.” They stated, “The United States is in the midst of a Fentanyl crisis, with law enforcement reporting and public health data indicating higher availability of Fentanyls, increased seizures of Fentanyls, and more known overdose deaths from Fentanyls than at any other time since the drugs were first created in 1959.”
The scale of drug overdose deaths at times is lost in the news media as this is an ongoing issue. To put this into better perspective, the number of drug overdose deaths is about 175 people dying every day. Between the years 2000 and 2015 about 500,000 Americans have died of drug overdoses. This is roughly equivalent to the population of Sacramento, California. From a historic perspective, more Americans have died from drug overdoses so far in the 21st century than have died in all the wars the U.S. have fought in both the 20th and 21st century. This includes World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, Iraq and the Afghanistan war.
According to a NY Times article in June of 2017, “Over two million Americans are estimated to be dependent on opioids, and an additional 95 million used prescription painkillers in the past year — more than used tobacco.”
“One of the major issues with the increase of usage of opioid drugs is the culture that focuses on the treatment of pain rather that the search for the cause,” states Dr. Lucas Matlock, president of the Florida Chiropractic Society. “The chiropractic profession has always focused on looking for the cause of body malfunction that may lead to pain or other symptoms.” He continued, “Over the 122 year history of chiropractic, not one opioid addict has been created, or one drug overdose death resulted from chiropractic care.”