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Opiate epidemic takes center stage on International Overdose Awareness Day

Posted at 5:21 AM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 09:58:42-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Mainly driven by the opiate epidemic, the number of people overdosing and dying in the United States is high and continues to rise.

On International Overdose Awareness Day health experts are shining a light on the problem that has gripped the U.S. and Clark County for years.

The Southern Nevada Health District reports overdose deaths have risen by 39% in the first months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department blamed the powerful opiate Fentanyl for five deaths in 24 hours on Aug. 12.

RELATED: 5 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in 24 hours in Las Vegas

Substance abuse expert Scott Silverman has compared the death rate in the U.S. to a plane crashing every day as 240 people are lost to overdoses every 24 hours.

Silverman says occasions like Overdose Awareness Day are important to shine a light on the problem.

"We're probably not hearing about 90% of it right now," Silverman said. "Between COVID and what's going on in Washington, and now globally, and now these huge storms, it isn't a topic that unfortunately makes the news right now, and I know it's happening because I hear about it daily."

Silverman also says the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to the increase in overdose deaths as stress and isolation lead people to self-medicate and in-person recovery groups are driven apart by social distancing.

He said people should use Overdose Awareness Day as an opportunity to reach out and seek help, and he's offering 15 minutes of free consultation to direct people to resources in their area.

Silverman can be contacted at 619-993-2738.