Saturday, May 14, 2022

CNBC and PBS report record overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2021

As I wrote about the largest drop in life expectancy since World War II and repeated in U.S. life expectancy continued falling in 2021, a pandemic update, "the pandemic is responsible for most of the drop, [but] other causes, like the opioid epidemic and systemic racism making the pandemic worse for minorities, played roles in lowering life expectancy." After examining how misinformation and the partisan divide contributed to 1 million deaths from COVID-19 this month, it's time to look at one of the other causes U.S. life expectancy has fallen. Watch CNBC Television report U.S. overdose deaths hit highest total on record.

CNBC's Shep Smith reports on the increase in drug overdose deaths in the United States. Last year, more than 107,000 people died. It was the highest total on record.
While Shep Smith did a good job of presenting the headline numbers, including the best preview image I could find, he and his writers did not explore the reasons for the surge in overdose deaths. I turn to PBS NewsHour's Overdose deaths in the U.S. reached record levels in 2021 to explain those.

New CDC data released Wednesday indicates that deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. reached a record-high last year. More than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2021, the highest annual death toll ever recorded. Deaths from fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine rose sharply. Dr. Nora Volkow, the National Institute On Drug Abuse director, joins Geoff Bennett to discuss.
Americans and others taking drugs to deal with the stress of the pandemic doesn't surprise. I expect it's part of the 15 million excess deaths worldwide I mentioned two days ago. It's also an example of two of Commoner's Laws: There is no free lunch and everything is connected to everything else. As I wrote in COVID-19 and diabetes for World Diabetes Day 2021, a pandemic update, "All of the systems in our body are connected to each other and what we do to or for one system will have effects on the rest. Also, isolating ourselves to protect us from the pandemic comes at a price, which we have to pay one way or another..."

Speaking of connections, overdoses from fentanyl contamination of other drugs have shown up in two of my favorite shows, "Ozark" and "Big Sky." I can't escape the opioid epidemic even in my entertainment.

By the way, I'm glad to see PBS interviewing Dr. Nora Volkow. While the U.S. probably wouldn't have more than 100,000 deaths without the pandemic, the country would still likely be seeing record numbers of overdoses and news organizations would be interviewing Dr. Volkow even more often. She deserves the recognition.

That's it for reality. Stay tuned for the next Sunday entertainment feature, which will likely be another compilation of highlights from tonight's "Saturday Night Live."

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