Joel Achenbach, Joel, 2019 discussed on WTOP 24 Hour News
The latest government data shows that last year more than 93,000 people died from drug For doses. That number is more than 21,000 more than the number of deaths in 2019, marking the biggest year to year increase in overdose deaths in American history. Prescription painkillers once drove the opioid epidemic in the US, But now it is the dangerously powerful opioid fentanyl. Well, joining us to talk more about this Washington Post science reporter Joel Achenbach jolts Good to have you back. Thank you so much. Well, thank you for having me and let's start with you giving maybe some examples here of how the pandemic factored into this big increase. Well in so many ways. There was a complete collapse of the usual systems for trying to allow people to get treatment. For example, we saw there's a new report out today that there was about a 30% drop in people entering addiction programs designed to help them if they were if they were addicted to drugs. You have prisons in jails that were letting nonviolent offenders go without normally sitting there at the way they would normally do send them to treatment programs and just all the other ways that the pandemic caused our society's normal programs to sort of shut down. You had a lot of people using drugs alone away from other people, which could be very dangerous. That's another factor. Is just awful. The previous number from from 2019 was an unacceptably high number. You know, like 72,000 people died in a single year from drug overdoses. Then it jumps to 93. These are appalling number. In light of recent reopenings around the country. Is there any optimism of the situation getting better? Well, the one thing that you know you have a really grim statistic like this that represents So many individual tragedies. I think there's gonna be some new attention to it. I mean that that this was not unexpected. We have written over the past year and a year and a half about the rising number of drug overdose. Fatal drug overdoses, but hopefully you'll see, you know now that you know the pandemic is still going on. We can't take our eye off that ball. But I think this is going to get some new attention from the by the administration from Congress and from the state health departments and the local health department. In our final 30 seconds we mentioned fentanyl is now a huge factor in all this. Elaborate on that a bit. Well, finally, just a little bit can kill you, if you you know, take it, And sometimes it gets mixed in with other drugs stories. Part of, you know, cocktail or people use cocaine under use my pen instead of meat, And sometimes they also used to spend all there was a big surge of it, particularly to the Western U. S. New statistics show. California, the most populous state had a 45% year to year increase in fatal overdoses that is largely driven by by Sentinel. All right. Thank you, Joel. For your time, as always. Thank you for having me. Washington Post science reporter Joel Achenbach will check sports Next. Why is.