Expert weighs in on nation’s record 107,000 fatal drug overdoses

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 7:01 PM MST|Updated: May. 12, 2022 at 6:02 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The CDC released a staggering new number on Wednesday estimating more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, setting another tragic record in the nation’s escalating overdose epidemic.

“What we are seeing now is that a lot of the drugs that are being sold here in Pima County have fentanyl in them. Initially they were laced with fentanyl but now there’s a lot of cross-contamination that’s going in the drug labs,” said Alex Fernandez, senior director of Addiction Services at CODAC Recovery and Wellness.

Last year, overdoses involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids surpassed 71,000, up 23% from the year before. There also was a 23% increase in deaths involving cocaine and a 34% increase in deaths involving meth and other stimulants.

She added that in 2021, Pima County saw 498 fatal overdoses from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. In 2020, there were 446.

“We were already seeing a rise in these numbers prior to the pandemic, COVID-19. But then we saw a major surge when COVID hit. A lot of that was related to people isolating, maybe staying at home and a fear of going out and getting the services that they need at one of our clinics,” Fernandez added.

According to the Pima County Health Department, Narcan doses are also on the rise. In 2019, 1,100 doses were administered. The next year, in 2020, that number rose to 2,500.

And in 2021, the county estimated 8,600 had been sent out or administered in the county.

According to Fernandez, the average age range for people struggling with drugs is between 24-34 years old. She said even with this high number there is some hope with the number of people reaching out and seeking services for recovery.

“We are getting so many people calling and emailing us. Because we know some people may not want to call,” she said.

You can learn more about the treatments offered at CODAC here.

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