MIDTOWN, Manhattan — When New York-born rapper DMX died in April following a drug overdose, it made news around the world. But for every celebrity headline, there are tens of thousands of ordinary people — parents, siblings and friends — who die far away from the spotlight.
The latest provisional stats, released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveal more than 100,000 people died of a drug overdose from April 2020 to April 2021. That translates to a 30% increase.
Ted Anastasiou, an attorney who formerly struggled with drug addiction, has lost three friends to drug overdoses over the course of the pandemic.
He’s now a Junior Board Member for the recovery advocacy organization Shatter Proof, and hopes others can find hope in his story, which started with alcohol abuse in high school.
“These are not just statistics,” he said. “Each death represents a loved one that was lost to the disease of addiction.”
Radio host Dr. Paul Christo, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Medicine said the increase in overdose deaths is the result of a “perfect storm”: A toxic combination of pandemic isolation and the increased availability of opioids like fentanyl on the street.
“A tiny bit of it … can lead to death pretty quickly,” he said.