Bleak New Estimates in Drug Epidemic: A Record 72,000 Overdose Deaths in 2017

By Alex3917 - 6 hours ago

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The amount of responsibility laundering that's happening is staggering. Is it the fault of the doctors for prescribing strong painkillers or the responsibility of lobbyists for keeping the status quo as it is. Or is it the responsibility of patients to not seek strong opiates for the smallest aches? On whom falls the blame for this?

announcerman - 5 hours ago

As a comparison, the road toll in the USA is 33,000 per year. Firearms kill about the same number (including 20,000 suicides).

3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

72,000 overdose deaths is just a staggeringly large number.

toomanybeersies - 5 hours ago

> Analysts pointed to two major reasons for the increase: A growing number of Americans are using opioids, and drugs are becoming more deadly. It is the second factor that most likely explains the bulk of the increased number of overdoses last year.

So, the increase in deaths is likely because of drugs becoming more deadly. How are drugs becoming more deadly ? It seems like this is how:

> Strong synthetic opioids like fentanyl and its analogues have become mixed into black-market supplies of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and the class of anti-anxiety medicines known as benzodiazepines. Unlike heroin, which is derived from poppy plants, fentanyl can be manufactured in a laboratory, and it is often easier to transport because it is more concentrated.

> In some places, the type of synthetic drugs mixed into heroin changes often, increasing the risk for users

So, preventing this blending of drugs could potentially improve the situation

> The number of opioid users has been going up “in most places, but not at this exponential rate,” said Brandon Marshall, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health. “The dominant factor is the changing drug supply.”

Not sure how this happens is explained in the article, but that could potentially be another attack vector

simula67 - 5 hours ago

This is absolutely terrible.

I worked in an inner-city setting servicing the addictions and psychiatry population as the fentanyl crisis started evolving several years ago. I would see the usual patient every day with no signs of instability, until they suddenly disappeared for a few days and were later found to have overdosed. Perfectly ordinary, pleasant people.

We try to prevent these events by sending teams around to check up on them daily. However, resources are limited and we couldn't closely monitor everyone. One of our patients had come across multiple close calls, but no amount of persuasion would entice him to use his drugs in one of those public injection sites, or to invest more heavily in drug therapy.

I have some hope for injectable hydromorphone programs being offered in pharmacies. Patients would come into a private room with a dose already measured out by the pharmacist. Pharmacies can already offer an unparalleled degree of monitoring since they see their patients on a daily basis.

PiggySpeed - 5 hours ago

When I opened this, I thought they meant 72000 on the whole world. Nope, it's just the US. That's an unbelievably high number to me.

akuji1993 - 5 hours ago

I have always wondered how pain killers could be so addictive.

Stimulants are physically addictive. They modify signals in your physiology to increase signal performance, in some way, and the body reacts to the temporary performance boost. There is a craving for the stimulant the body has becoming reliant upon and a withdrawal in the absence of that chemical. This manner of physical addiction isn't a choice and everybody is roughly equally at risk. Even laxatives are equally physically addictive in this manner even though there is absolutely no modification to behavior from laxative consumption.

Pain killers, and other depressants, on the other hand, don't work this way. With a very narrow exception to extreme alcohol consumption depressants are not immediately physically addictive. They require a modification to behavior to be addictive. In this way marijuana, which has no known physically addictive properties, has shown to be addictive to a small segment of users.

I have always wondered how depressant addiction occurs. Unlike with stimulants we are not all created equal. Some people are more prone to addiction from depressants than others. Some few people do not find depressants at all addicting and even detest their use. It makes me wonder what is the primary behavioral switch that enables this manner of addiction.

austincheney - 3 hours ago

undefined - 5 hours ago

Interestingly, this all is happening through legal routes. What would happen if hard drugs are fully legalized?

Another weird thing, there are already loads of deaths through overdoses in the inner city, but only now it is an epidemic? What changed?

yters - 3 hours ago

The war on drugs is a staggering failure.

Drugs have infiltrated every level of society, from business leaders and politicians to white and blue collar workers, to the bums on the street.

Drugs are causing tens of thousands of deaths a year in the US alone. I dread to think the global total. The casualties of this war are mounting up rapidly. This is before we even count the criminals and enforcers killed in open combat.

Whole countries are on the verge of civil war or just plain collapse.

Yet in most countries talk of reform is either treated disparagingly or suspiciously, as if all the speaker is interested in is a quick toot, or as if they are a collaborator or traitor.

It's sick, it's weird, and it's deeply disastrous.

Meanwhile in Portugal, where possession is decriminalised, things seem to get better all the time.

Nursie - 5 hours ago

Why decriminalise drug use, when you can reap billions in profits from the deaths of thousands instead?

I'm not sure that's what people meant when they requested drugs be regulated and taxes used for the greater good...

throwaway77384 - 4 hours ago