According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. drug overdose deaths have hit an all-time high.
On May 11, the CDC reported a 15% increase in overdose deaths from 2020 to 2021 resulting in an estimated 108,000 deaths.
Most of the deaths were from illicit street drugs and a toxic drug supply of fentanyl and methamphetamine.
“This is indeed a continuation of an awful trend,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told CNN.
“Rates of overdose deaths have been on an upward climb for decades now, increasing at unprecedented rates right before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S.”
Advocacy groups like the Ad Council have vowed to take on the overdose crisis through new national public awareness efforts.
The nonprofit has convened with tech giants Google, Meta, Snap, and leading public health organizations to address youth fentanyl awareness and substance use disorders. The Ad Council said the work would begin later this year.
“The efforts will roll out beginning in the summer of 2022 to educate young Americans and their parents and caregivers about the dangers and prevalence of fentanyl in counterfeit pills and illicit drugs…,” said the Ad Council.
Over 190 people die each day from overdoses involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
According to the Ad Council, while 79% of teens say stress and anxiety are common reasons to misuse prescription medicine, 73% report they hadn’t heard of the risk of fentanyl being added to counterfeit pills.
“There is so much that people don’t know about the substances they are using, including fentanyl, along with their potentially catastrophic effects,” Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, said.
“Through these new campaigns, the Ad Council is taking on one of the biggest issues facing our nation to bring life-saving awareness directly to those who need it.”
The Ad Council said it is also committed to helping reach Black, Indigenous, and other people of color who are currently experiencing heightened levels of drug use disorders.
From 2015 to 2020, drug overdose death rates increased dramatically among Black American (190%) and American Indian/Alaska Native (98%) populations compared to overdose death rates among white people (55%).
Additionally, certain communities of color experience reduced access to quality healthcare and, in some regions, also have reduced access to life-saving drugs like naloxone.
“We’re grateful to be collaborating with the Ad Council, Google, Meta and additional partners on this unprecedented public awareness campaign to help Americans recognize the dangers of fentanyl and how to protect themselves and their loved ones,” Jennisazr Stout, VP of Global Public Policy at Snap, Inc.