According to the latest report from the National Center for Health Statistics, drug overdose deaths were higher in the first nine months of 2016 than the same period the year before.
The media and experts expected that this could be the case considering the detrimental impact the opioid epidemic has had on the population.
“The National Center for Health Statistics reported that overdose deaths reached a record 19.9 per 100,000 population in the third quarter, a big increase over the 16.7 recorded for the same three months in 2015. Similarly, the first two quarters of last year showed death rates of 18.9 and 19.3, far greater than the corresponding periods for 2015. Data for the fourth quarter of 2016 are not yet available,” writes The Washington Post.
There were 52,404 total fatal overdoses reported in 2015. 33,000 of those overdoses were caused by opioid drugs, including heroin, fentanyl, and other prescription drugs.
As for 2016, the government’s annual drug death reports lag by roughly a year. But last year, overdose deaths by opioids was at its highest it has ever been.
“Heroin deaths rose 23 percent in one year, to 12,989, slightly higher than the number of gun homicides, according to government data released Thursday,” wrote Chicago Tribune late last year. “Deaths from synthetic opioids, including illicit fentanyl, rose 73 percent to 9,580. And prescription painkillers took the highest toll but posted the smallest increase. Abuse of drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin killed 17,536, an increase of 4 percent.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were shocked by these high numbers.
"I don't think we've ever seen anything like this. Certainly not in modern times," said Robert Anderson of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December of 2016.
A report released this month by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine claims that the number of drug overdoses from opioid previously reported were likely underestimated by 24%. This is because medical examiners may not have included the correct cause of death on reports, like street fentanyl.
The New York Times predicted that overdose deaths would spike to over 60,000.
The Trump administration is planning to address the drug overdose crisis.
"Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it," said Chris Christie, New Jersey Gov. heading up Trump's commission on the opioid epidemic. "The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency."
After Trump had a meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and acting Director of National Drug Control Policy Richard Baum on Tuesday, the president said it is time to take a stronger approach to the opioid crisis.
"It's a problem the likes of which we have never seen. Meanwhile, the overall drug prosecutions have gone down in recent years," said Trump.
Trump’s administration has plans to ramp up law enforcement efforts to combat the country’s massive drug problem.
"At the end of 2016, there were 23% fewer federal prosecutions than in 2011. So they looked at this surge and they let it go by," said Trump about the previous law enforcement under President Barack Obama. "We're not letting it go by. The average sentence for a drug offender decreased 20% from 2009 to 2016."
Author’s note: This is not surprising given that Obama was unapologetic about his own drug use in his earlier years. He also substantially decreased the penalties and enforcement for drug crimes. Current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on the other hand, has declared war on drug dealers. But, it doesn’t help that the liberal media has attempted to brainwash the public into thinking DARE programs and the past "war on drugs" campaigns were not effective. Now, marijuana use is seen as completely fine. This recent narrative about certain drug use being okay in the U.S. needs to be changed.
Editor's note: As a former intelligence officer, I put my sorry butt on the line many times against the likes of Pablo Escobar and the Ochoa's to keep illegal drugs out of America. It saddens me that our former commander-in-chief has allowed drug use to rise to epidemic proportions. So many lives destroyed.