March 3, 2021
According to this press release from the CDC, in the 12-month period ending in May of 2020, there were over 81,000 lethal drug overdoses in the United States. And that was before the pandemic really kicked in.
Synthetic opioids were clearly the driver behind the increase: 37 of the 38 U.S. jurisdictions with available synthetic opioid data reported increases in synthetic opioid deaths. 18 of those jurisdictions reported increases of more than 50 percent. 10 western states reported over a 98% increase in synthetic opioid-related deaths.
And it may be about to get a lot worse.
According to this article at the Vice website, there’s a new drug in town: “benzo dope,” also known as “purple heroin.” Benzo dope contains a mixture of fentanyl and black-market benzodiazepines. It is already taking British Columbia — the epicenter of Canada’s drug death crisis — by storm. Last October, experts in British Columbia discovered that 16 percent of the fentanyl seized was cut with benzodiazepines. In January, that figure was just five percent. Before 2019, it was zero.
A major problem with benzo dope is that it is impervious to naloxone (which I happen to carry in my car and have not, thankfully, yet had to use), the overdose-reversing medication which is estimated to have saved 27,000 lives.
I may not have the solution, but I sure know what the problem is.