Examining Trends of Drug Overdose Deaths 2006-2019
Dr. Christopher Hekimian - The Joseph Albert Hekimian Legacy Fund, 2022
Deaths due to drug abuse have long been endemic in the United States. The following figure, produced by the National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse [i] shows drug-involved overdose death totals by year from 1999 to 2020. The serious nature of the problem is clearly evident.
[i] Overdose Death Rates. NIH, National Institute on Drug Abuse. URL: https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates, Accessed: 7/31/2022
Figure 1 CDC Totals by Year for National Drug-Involved Overdose Deaths
What can be done about the problem that continues to steal brothers, sisters, sons and daughters and moms and dads from so many American families? Can anything be done? Let’s examine the chart more closely.
The data appears to increase monotonically until 2017, where it appears to level off, until it increases again in 2020. The jump in death rates in 2020 is likely attributable to the negative impacts of COVID-19. In-person counseling and support group meetings were shut down and jobs and income lost through economic hardship led to increased personal stress and drug addiction relapses[i] and new cases of addiction and subsequent overdoses. In fact, linear regression analysis shows that the average rate of increase of overdose deaths was 17,155 new deaths per year for the ten years leading up to 2017. From 2017 through 2019, the average rate of new deaths per year reduces to 7,038. Statistical significance testing on the two trends show that if the initial rate of increase of deaths were to have prevailed during the years of 2017- 2019, there would be less than a 0.4% likelihood of achieving the reduced average rate of new deaths that did actually occur. Figure 2 is a zoomed in view of the relevant period of Figure 1, with the two different trend lines shown.
[i] The Impact of COVID-19 on Drug Use—and How It Contributes to Overdose Risk. News Release. NYU. Apr 25, 2022. URL: https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2022/april/covid-19-drug-use.html. Accessed: 8/6/2022
Figure 2 Trend Established Between 2006 and 2016 Extrapolated through 2019 and Actual 2017-2019 Trend Lines
Figure 2 and the statistical evidence support the notion that something happened to affect positive change starting in 2017, continuing through 2019 and ending with the impact of COVID-19. Analysis indicated that we can be more than 99.6% confident that the more favorable trend did not occur by chance. So, what did happen during the period of 2017-2019 that could account for the change?
The changes included the following[i]:
- An addition of $6 billion in new funding over a two-year window to fight opioid abuse was made.
- The federal government Implemented a “Safer Prescribing Plan” with the objective of reducing opioid prescription fills by 33% within three years.
- The Administration took a series of aggressive steps to secure our nations borders and ports of entry against the flow of illicit drugs into the country.
- In 2018, the President worked with Congress to pass, in a bipartisan manner, the largest legislative package addressing a single drug crisis in history. The act was called the SUPPORT Act,
Further, the Administration at the time applied great political and economic (trade) pressure on the Chinese in an attempt to stop trafficking of the deadly drug fentanyl. The result of the pressure was that China placed 1,400 different fentanyl analogues (sometimes referred to as “bath salts”) under state control. [ii] The Administration worked with the private sector to raise awareness about fentanyl products and they designated some Chinese nationals as drug kingpins for trafficking in the substance.[iii]
The Administration also expanded access to the opioid overdose antidote drug called Naloxone.[iv]
Given the CDC data and the results of the regression analysis, the impact Trump Administration efforts can be quantified in terms of human life. In particular, had the average increase in overdose deaths of the 10 years preceding 2017 been allowed to continue, that rate of death by overdose would account for an estimated 34,310 deaths over the period of 2017 through 2019. Instead, the interventions of the Trump Administration, including the examples referred to in this article resulted limited the increase in deaths to only 14,075 over the base amount for that 3-year period. The difference in these numbers represent an estimate of more than 20,000 lives saved over the course of 3 years by an aggressive anti-drug policy.
[ii] Jonathan Landay. “Trump accuses China's Xi of failing to halt fentanyl exports to U.S.”. Yahoo News. 8/1/2019. URL: https://news.yahoo.com/trump-accuses-chinas-xi-failing-235641280.html. Accessed: 7/31/2022
[iii] Marisa Schultz. “Trump launches effort against fentanyl trafficking”. NY Post. 8/21/2019. URL: https://nypost.com/2019/08/21/trump-launches-effort-against-fentanyl-trafficking/ . Accessed: 7/31/2022
[iv] Maegan Vazquez. “What Trump's drug policies have meant for America's opioid epidemic”. CNN. 2/2/2020. URL: https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/02/politics/opioid-epidemic-donald-trump-drug-policy/index.html. Accessed: 7/31/2022
Across all human societies at all times and in all locations, regardless of religion or other value system there was and is one irreducible base-line truth - there are men and there are women and that distinction is one of biology, not preference - the "Baseline Truth." A society only progresses in time through men and women living, laughing and loving together, having children and maintaining coherent families. Without embracing the Baseline Truth of male and female and that necessary interaction, there are no children, there are no families and the society collapses.
NO SURPRISE HERE
By Hessie Harris
From the day he entered office, Biden has been working to impoverish American citizens by interfering with their financial self-sufficiency with the goal of destroying it. He cancelled the Keystone Pipeline and with it the scheduled employment of several citizens.
During the “Pandemic” he allowed the CDC to impose an unauthorized rent moratorium which not only negatively affected the income of large realtors, it crushed that of some small ones. There were those who had to sell their rental properties, the income from which they paid their mortgages. Even with doing that their homes were sometimes foreclosed on.
Unnecessarily restrictive rules caused many small businesses to fold. Then the rest of his “emergency welfare” in the form of unneeded, wasteful, inappropriately awarded “Stimulus” made it difficult for employers to find employees. Potential employees collected more money not working. That caused even more businesses to fail.
His “Inflation Reduction Act” is a bad joke because he caused the inflation with his previous reckless and needless spending and this law will cause more. But it is no laughing matter because it imposes higher and additional taxes on the American people will not reduce inflation.
Now he is trying get 87,000 new IRS agents hired supposedly to “audit citizens”. But the facts suggest something else: raids not audits. One of the new positions to be filled is that of “IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent” which will require a willingness to work more than 50 hours, which may be irregular. They must be on call24/7 including holidays and weekends. The person must carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force as well as being able to participate in arrest, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments”.
Furthermore, such activities are deemed within the scope of the job because “no matter what the source of the income, both legal and illegal, has the potential of becoming crimes which fall within the investigative jurisdiction of the IRS Criminal Investigation”. (Townhall, August 11, 2022). Apparently, Former President Trump is the first victim of such procedure.
However, as stated in the Wall Street Journal, “these new efforts to Enforce the tax code will be focused on the middle and upper middle classes because that is where the money is”. It is also where those with the courage to oppose Biden and the Leftists are found. Wealthier people would only be at risk, if somehow the criticized or otherwise interfered with his agenda.
This is not only to destroy economic freedom and independence but also negate citizen’s rights. Any government intrusion will be deemed excusable under this procedure. Any form of resistance could put a person’s life and that of their loved ones in jeopardy. People will be cowed into silence because of an overarching fear of a tax raid.
Our hope now must be in concerted efforts by citizens and Congressional representatives who opposed Biden and his henchmen. Those members of Congress constantly say what they and the newly elected will do after the November elections. They do not seem to see that if this IRS Gestapo is allowed, candidates opposing Biden and the Leftists will fear running for office. Indeed, citizens will fear voting as Biden’s mafia will have no problem in corrupting the process and possibly revealing their identity and choice.
Congress persons speak in the halls of Congress, in Town Halls, and on news programs. But they are not reaching the uninformed, indifferent, ignorant and inept of the populace. It is time that in addition to their usual approach, they proceed with the intensity that they do in their political campaigns. They need to speak directly and more frequently to constituents about what is going on.
That means more trips back home and going where the people are. Virtual communication such as Zoom is also available. They and/or their assistants need to telephone constituents. That does not mean robo calls. Tell them to write and call the White House when the problem is being generated from there.
Citizens should also write and call the offices of presumed supporters of Biden. Many have no concept of what is being planned.
In addition, Citizens must speak to people they know. They need to show them the articles. Refer them to news programs that tell the story. Encourage them to write and make the calls, as well as encouraging others to do the same.
The Biden Ministry of Truth was stopped by activism as was Biden’s proposed bill to track bank accounts of citizens with over $600 in annual transactions.
In conclusion, the Executive Branch is totally corrupt, the Judicial Branch is under attack, Congressional Representatives must work to stir the informed and educate the uninformed. The things Biden has down as is planning can and will destroy their lives, as well as those of citizens, if they do not act.
Hessie L. Harris is a newly elected Member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, taking office in November.