According to recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 100,000 people died of drug related overdoses in 2021. Prescription pain pills followed by waves in heroin, fentanyl, and meth use have all contributed to the rising overdose epidemic. Challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic including social isolation, depression, and limited access to treatment, have contributed to these numbers. Overdose deaths spiked to unseen levels during the beginning of the pandemic, especially amongst younger Americans and in rural areas of the country where access to treatment is more limited, and this number continues to grow. Stimulants such as methamphetamine made up about half of overdose deaths in California and opioid overdoses, especially fentanyl, have jumped more than 27%. UCSF Professor and CBAM colleague, Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, highlighted this wave of methamphetamine use and noted that the increasing rate of overdose may flatten post-pandemic however, the number of people using drugs will continue to rise. This increase may be due in part to the increasing use and accessibility of fentanyl into the drug supply. Researchers within CBAM and externally, continue to explore the overdose epidemic and how to address growing concerns such as increasing access to treatment and medication services for opioid and stimulant use disorder.
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