Drug Overdose Deaths in the U.S. Top 100,000 Annually For First Time

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Not surprisingly, U.S. drug deaths in 2021 reached a record high over 100,000. Largely driven by opioids usage and fueled by pandemic stress, deaths by overdose are on a troubling rise. Here is what you should know. And do.

Contributing to that staggering death count, fentanyl accounted for 60,000 of those overdose deaths. Not surprisingly, most of that drug was in the form of counterfeit versions of oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®). (CDC and DEA)

  • 40% of over 9.5M counterfeit pills made from fentanyl seized in U.S. in first 9 months of 2021 contain a potentially fatal dose of fentanyl. (DEA)
  • Counterfeit pills made from fentanyl are undetectable by a standard 5-panel drug test.

Because these pills are within anyone’s reach on social media or e-commerce sites (DEA), accidental overdoses are common and increasing. In other words, users take a powerful sedative rather than their party drug of choice. Predictably, the outcomes are not good.

But availability is not the only reason for these overdose deaths. In addition to ease of access, these drugs are invisible to most currently used drug screens. The consequence is that an unwitting user goes undetected, and a workplace is at risk. In fact, adding the only FDA-cleared fentanyl test is the only sure way to detect the drug. Beyond that, adding a test that looks back 90-days is the only way to identify chronic or lifestyle users.

Finally, this “undetectable” opioid can no longer hide, but only if you look for it. Consequently, rolling back the number of drug deaths in 2021 likely depends on identifying those people at risk and intervening.

And that test is only available from Psychemedics.