One year. That is all the time it took for a historic increase in drug overdoses across the United States. Through the monumental time period of 2019-2020 there has been a 30% increase in overdose deaths throughout the nation. 

Last year, West Virginia was in the lead for the number of fatal drug overdoses.  

Of the 1,275 fatal overdoses, 955 involved fentanyl. 

Jamie Evick, vice president of medical affairs at Reynolds Memorial Hospital, says that there has been an increase in patients coming in for overdoses, as well as seeking treatments through their Breakthrough program. 

“There’s several reasons that this happens. So, opioids is one of the biggest abused drugs. What we’re seeing is fentanyl, which is manufactured. It is much easier and much cheaper to make, so they are mixing the fentanyl with other drugs, so it’s becoming more lethal because the fentanyl is more toxic in smaller doses.”

Jamie Evick – Vice President of Medical Affairs for Reynolds Memorial Hospital

The CDC has just released a 2022 Vital Signs report documenting the overdose deaths by race and ethnicity between 2019-2020. In one year, overdose death rates most notably increased 44% for Black people, 39% for American Indian and Alaskan Native people, and 24% for white people. 

“Drug addiction knows no socioeconomic boundaries. It can affect anybody of any age, race, color, educational background.”

Jamie Evick – Vice President of Medical Affairs for Reynolds Memorial Hospital

The CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director Dr. Debra Houry, responds to these numbers by stating: 

“The increase in overdose deaths and widening disparities are alarming… Overdose deaths are preventable, and we must redouble our efforts to make overdose prevention a priority… Providing tailored tools and resources to combat overdose and address underlying risk factors will ultimately help reduce health disparities and save lives.” 

Dr. Debra Houry – CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director

Jamie says the Breakthrough program at Reynolds Memorial Hospital – a 3 day, controlled, inpatient stay – not only assists those withdrawing, but their families as well. 

“We become, you know, involved with the family with the patient and our concern is ‘What can we do after they are medically stable to prevent this from happening again?’ So, a lot of times we will involve behavioral health, we’ll get the Breakthrough Program involved, and we’ll make sure they are set up for outpatient follow-up when discharged.”

Jamie Evick – Vice President of Medical Affairs for Reynolds Memorial Hospital

If you or someone close to you needs help for a substance use disorder, talk to your doctor or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP at the bottom of the screen, or go their website for more information.