More than 100,000 people died of overdoses in the past year, a bipartisan US Congress report has found.
“Whether measured in lives or in dollars, the United States’ drug overdose epidemic should shock everyone,” the report said. “It is unacceptable.”
Three years ago, A White House Council of Economic Advisers assessment estimated the cost of the opioid crisis at $700 billion.
That figure has skyrocketed to $1 trillion based on the increase in overdose deaths seen since 2018.
Drug overdose deaths have more than doubled in recent years, from about 44,000 in 2013, to more than 100,000 between May 2020 and April 2021.
Overdose incidents are responsible for more deaths in the US each year than firearms, suicide, homicide or car crashes, according to the report.
The report said “transnational criminal organisations used trafficking routes through Mexico to maintain an expansive supply chain, which has funnelled fake versions of Oxycontin, Vicodin and Xanax, or stimulants like Adderall”.
“The United States has never experienced such a rapid and unprecedented shift in illegal drug markets, especially a shift that is causing so much death,” it said.
The report said as well as law enforcement measures, there is also a need for public health solutions. Methadone and buprenorphine, two treatment medications designed to reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, are identified as two of the most effective intervention methods.