U.S. Passes a Grim New Overdose Benchmark

Dr. Munr Kazmir
5 min readNov 30, 2021

More people died of a drug overdose in the U.S. last year than in any other year in history. Are things about to get even worse?

“Market Street Still Life.” September 14, 2016. (photo: reverendlukewarm)

Of the many long-term societal problems wrought or worsened by COVID-19, only a handful have begun to rear their ugly heads.

Seeing them, we are concerned that these issues, laid bare or laid open by a global pandemic and all the mitigation measures we took in response to it, are far worse than they as yet appear.

We are right to fear it.

Like vast icebergs, only the uppermost tips of these problems are visible, and the picture is unsettling verging on outright appalling. What’s worse, we sense- also correctly- that it is much too late to change course.

Whatever we bought with the sunk-costs of our quarantines, shut-downs, isolation and austerity measures; what we paid for it is finally starting to come into focus.

It’s dear.

We did things to mitigate COVID-19 we’ve never done before in response to any manmade or natural disaster- like shut down in-person public schools. What happens as a result is likely to be unprecedented, too.

America’s children paid dearly, as we all knew they would. “Kids are resilient,” or so the comforting saying goes. But as classes have returned to “normal”, not all kids have adjusted so easily. Entire schools have had to be closed for weeks at a time due to fights, behavioral problems and other disruptions teachers and administrators are at a complete loss to handle.

Standardized test scores are starting to come in and the results are about as bad as we could have feared, and much worse for already marginalized and at-risk students from low-income communities. Teen suicide attempt rates are up- way up.

Suicide rates are up, too; but not for everyone. Crime is also way, way up; but again, not for everyone.

The increase in violent and property crimes, like the increase in suicide rates, may all be attributable to the pandemic.

Then again, the world experienced the same pandemic; not every country is now grappling with the same skyrocketing crime and suicide rates.