Horrifying numbers on drug overdoses

From Josh Katz in The New York Times Upshot:

How bad is this?

  • The Times estimates that 62,500 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016.
  • That’s 50% more than the deaths from AIDS in the peak year of the epidemic (41,699 in 1995).
  • It’s the worst single-year mortality event in 60 years, when 70,000 Americans died in the 1957 Asian flu pandemic.
  • It’s twice the number of annual US traffic deaths.
  • It’s four times the number of Americans killed annually by firearms.
  • The increase in deaths in 2016 — about 10,000 more than 2015 — is more than three times the total number of Americans who have been killed by terrorists since the morning of 2001/09/11.
  • Katz: “Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.”
  • The estimated one-year increase from 2015 to 2016 is 19%. If that rate of growth were to continue — and surely it CAN’T — the annual deaths would double in about 3.7 years. The doubling time for the number of deaths is falling, meaning that epidemic is accelerating.

The drug overdose epidemic is a public health catastrophe in the same class as AIDS.


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