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US death records show drug fatalities up by 15 per cent
The number of fatalities in America ’ s ongoing drug-death crisis increased by 15 per cent in 2021 , according to provisional figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ). Last year saw 107,622 deaths , bringing the overall total since the turn of the millennium to more than 1m .
The provisional figures are based on available death records and are subject to change as they ‘ may not include all deaths that occurred during a given time period ’, says CDC . However , while the number is significantly higher than 2020 ’ s already record 93,655 deaths , the increase was half that of the 30 per cent jump between 2019 and 2020 .
Almost 81,000 of 2021 ’ s deaths involved opioids , compared to just over 70,000 in 2020 . There were more than 71,000 deaths involving fentanyl , as well as almost 33,000 involving methamphetamine and just over 24,500 involving cocaine – all up on the previous year – with overdose deaths increasing in every US state except Hawaii . The Biden
EMERGENCY CALL HANDLERS need better training around dealing with overdose situations , according to a Scottish Drugs Forum ( SDF ) report . Some call handlers have been giving advice that conflicts with that provided in naloxone training , says Providing emergency help to someone having an overdose : your experiences . The document is based on survey responses from 285 people who have provided emergency help to someone having an overdose , including family members , healthcare professionals , support workers , emergency service staff and members of the public .
The responses also illustrate the need for wider availability administration recently launched its first drug strategy , with a marked shift towards harm reduction policies in an attempt to tackle the country ’ s ‘ overdose epidemic ’ ( DDN , May , page 5 ).
‘ Once again , we are devastated by these numbers ,’ said Jules Netherland of the Drug Policy Alliance NGO . ‘ And sadly , we know the numbers will only continue to climb unless our policymakers actually do what is necessary to curb them . The United States has spent over 50 years and well over a trillion dollars on criminalisation – and this is where it has gotten us . We are grateful that the Biden administration has embraced harm reduction as part of their National drug control strategy , but we need to see that commitment met with Congressional funding and a massive scaling up of these health services . While it may not always be politically convenient , it ’ s time to be guided by the evidence about what works . Overdose deaths are avoidable and a policy failure — it ’ s time we stop recycling the same
of naloxone , says SDF , and for more people to be trained in its use . Around three-quarters of respondents had completed a training course on overdose signs and symptoms and how to use naloxone , with a ‘ fairly even ’ split between those who had been trained within the last year and those who had been trained more than a year ago . People who have intervened in an overdose situation should also be provided with support , it adds , as this can often be traumatic – particularly where family members are involved .
Meanwhile , the percentage of people assessed for drug treatment in Scotland who report that they
' It ’ s time to be guided by the evidence about what works .'
policies that got us here and take the actions that are necessary to save lives .’
Provisional drug overdose death counts at www . cdc . gov / nchs / nvss / vsrr / drug-overdose-data . htm
Better overdose training needed for emergency call handlers are currently injecting is now 9 per cent , according to the latest Public Health Scotland figures – down from almost 30 per cent in 2006- 07 . The figures , which are taken from the 2020-21 Scottish Drug Misuse Database statistics , also show that the number of initial assessments for specialist drug treatment fell to 7,938 from almost 11,000 the previous year , partly as a result of the impact of COVID 19 on service provision .
Emergency help document at www . sdf . org . uk ; Scottish Drug Misuse Database : Overview of initial assessments for specialist drug treatment 2020 / 21 at https :// publichealthscotland . scot /
FRONTLINE FUNDING Humankind ’ s Project Reset scheme , which helps soldiers in North Yorkshire struggling with drug , alcohol and gambling issues , has received British Army funding to continue its work for another year . ‘ The need across the military community has always been there ,’ said project manager Craig Bosomworth , with ‘ great potential to expand this blueprint much further ’.
VILLAGE PEOPLE Change Grow Live ’ s Wirral Ways to Recovery Village is the subject of a two-part documentary by the BBC . The programme represented a ‘ great opportunity for us to shine a light on the work that is being done in Birkenhead , and the positive impact the town ’ s recovery village partnership is having on service users ’, said service manager Andrew Cass . www . bbc . co . uk / iplayer / episode / p0c82r0v / addiction-addiction-theroad-to-recovery
BACK FROM THE BRINK The UK ’ s first dry bar , Liverpool ’ s The Brink , has been reopened by the Forward Trust two years after having to close in the wake of the pandemic . ‘ COVID-19 presented many challenges for us , like so many others , so we want to celebrate the achievements of people who have overcome addiction ,’ said general manager Lucy McLachlan , ‘ and provide them with a safe space to receive support .’
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