110,000 Americans died in 2022 of drug overdose, says US Blinken - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Saturday, July 8, 2023

110,000 Americans died in 2022 of drug overdose, says US Blinken

The United States lost nearly 110,000 of its citizens to drug overdose in 2022, Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken has said.

The economic toll, he said, was nearly $1.5 trillion in the United States in 2020 alone.

Blinken was speaking at the weekend to the senior government officials from more than 80 countries, as well as leaders from over a dozen regional and international organisations during the launch of the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threats.

America, he said, acutely feels synthetic drugs because they are the number one killer of Americans aged 18 to 49.

“Nearly 110,000 Americans died last year of a drug overdose. Two-thirds of those deaths involved synthetic opioids.

For the individuals, the families, the communities affected, the pain caused by these deaths and by the millions who suffer with substance use is immeasurable.

It’s also inflicting a massive economic toll – nearly $1.5 trillion in the United States in 2020 alone, according to a report by our Congress; our public health system, our criminal justice system all bearing the costs,” Blinken said.

President Joe Biden, he said, has made it a top priority for the U.S. to tackle untreated addiction and drug trafficking, which are two of the critical drivers of this epidemic in the United States.

The challenge, he said, is not for America alone, adding that according to the United Nations, more than 34 million people around the world use methamphetamines or other synthetic stimulants annually.

“And every region is experiencing an alarming rise in other synthetic drugs. In Africa, it’s tramadol; in the Middle East, fake Captagon pills; in Asia, Ketamine,” Blinken said.

The United States, he admitted, is a canary in the coal mine when it comes to fentanyl, an exceptionally addictive and deadly synthetic drug.

“Having saturated the United States market, transnational criminal enterprises are turning elsewhere to expand their profits. If we don’t act together with fierce urgency, more communities around the world will bear the catastrophic costs that are already affecting so many American cities, so many American towns.

“The criminal organisations that traffic synthetic drugs are extremely adept at exploiting weak links in our interconnected global system. When one government aggressively restricts the precursor chemical, traffickers simply buy it elsewhere. When one country closes off a transit route, traffickers quickly shift to another. This is the definition of a problem that no country can solve alone. That’s why we’re creating this global coalition,” he said.

Blinken went on: “We’re focused on three key areas: first, preventing the illicit manufacture and trafficking of synthetic drugs; second, detecting emerging threats and patterns of use; and third, advancing public health interventions and services to prevent and reduce drug use, to save lives, to support recovery for people who use drugs.

“Now, of course, we’re not starting from scratch. For years, governments, regional and international organisations, health workers, and communities have been coming up with innovative solutions on each of these priorities. Countries in the Western Hemisphere are working with the Organisation of American States to develop and implement early warning systems to detect emerging synthetic drug use.”
Most synthetic drugs, Blinken explained, are produced from chemicals used legally in making pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and household products.

He added that traffickers advertise synthetic drugs on social media, use online apps to communicate with prospective buyers and collect payments.

He said: “We also need to partner with hospitals and clinics, emergency departments, mental health professionals, and other public health stakeholders who are saving lives every single day while providing treatment and recovery support efforts. And we need civil society at the table, including the community-based organisations that are on the front lines of this effort.

“When we talk about the hundreds of thousands of lives this epidemic takes every year, and the millions of families it’s ravaging, it’s easy to lose sight of the human beings behind the numbers. So let’s remember that while this coalition is about protecting our citizens’ security, their health, their prosperity, it’s also about saving people’s lives, saving their futures – people who could be our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones; individuals who, like Shawna, have so much to contribute to their communities.”

In September, the coalition will meet on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Week.

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