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Overdose deaths rose 31 percent in Alabama during the pandemic

Drug overdose deaths in Alabama were up 31 percent in 2020 over 2019, but the state was not alone.


According to a recent data analysis compiled from the latest CDC data, overdose deaths in Alabama were up 31 percent in 2020 over 2019.

Since the start of the pandemic, 944 people have died of a drug overdose in Alabama, which is 225 more people than in 2019, when 719 Alabamians died of drug overdoses.

A team of data analysts compiled the latest CDC data to shed light on the growing health crisis that’s killed nearly 87,000 Americans. Alabama is not alone.

Texas had 2,956 overdose deaths in 2019. That jumped to 3,968 in 2020. That is 1,012 more deaths, a 34.2 percent increase. Iowa jumped from 316 overdose deaths in 2019 to 418 in 2020, an increase of 102 fatalities, or 32.3 percent.

Minnesota had 753 drug overdose deaths in 2019, which jumped to 995 in 2020, an increase of 242, or 32.1 percent. Indiana saw its overdose deaths jump from 1,637 to 2,151, an increase of 514, or 31.4 percent.

Alabama had the fifth-largest increase in drug overdose deaths on a percentage basis.

Historically, Alabama physicians have prescribed massive quantities of opioids. For years, the state has led the world in opioid prescriptions per capita. Law enforcement and legislators have cracked down on “Doctor Feel Goods” and out-of-control pain management practices that effectively were nothing more than “pill mills.”

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Unfortunately, as law enforcement and regulators have cracked down on the rogue physicians, much of their clientele were already addicted. Rather than confronting their addictions, many of them have gone to the black market for their pain relievers. Heroin and fentanyl are often being used to satiate demand. Overdose deaths are happening across this nation as a result.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made matters even worse because many Americans were home for days, weeks and, in some states, months because of shutdowns. This increased loneliness and depression in many people. Alcohol sales skyrocket during the shutdowns even with most of the bars closed down.

Americans insist on “self-medicating” their ills with alcohol, pills and in too many cases with illegal substances. All of this creates a toxic mix that leads to more deaths either through overdoses or impaired driving.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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