This morning I woke to the news that “U.S. Drug-Overdose Deaths Soared Nearly 30% in 2020, Driven by Synthetic Opioids” – an estimated record high of 93,331 deaths last year. Reasons given are a deadlier supply of drugs and the destabilizing effects of COVID.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve wondered how David would have managed his addiction to heroin. Would he still have been able to make his almost daily trips to D.C.? Barber shops were closed, no work, no pay … no drugs? Would the pandemic be the “cure” to make the reward for not using greater than the reward for using? I’ll never know.
In January 2014, the detective investigating David’s death wrote to me in an email:
“It [David’s death] appears to be an accidental death. Keep in mind, there have been a lot of news reports recently regarding “Bad Heroin” on the east coast. There have been at least eighty reported deaths after people have injected heroin laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate. There have been several cases in Fairfax Country. I hope that Fentanyl is not involved in this case ….”
Fentanyl is reported to be 50 times stronger than heroin.
Compared to the 2020 fiscal year, the Texas Department of Public Safety estimates that there’s been a 2,000% increase in the amount of fentanyl smuggled across the U.S. border with Mexico, which has decreased the street price from $50 to $15 a hit. Yet, it’s also reported that there’s progress at the border.
The increase in the illegal supply of much more potent drugs, drop in price, and COVID anxieties are a hazardous mix for coping with addiction. As I note in The Last Stop’s disclaimer: If you or a loved one is caught in the throes of addiction, please seek support and treatment, or it will suck the life out of you.