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US overdose deaths reach record high 93k during pandemic

Fentanyl Opioids CNN
Posted at 10:51 AM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 10:51:35-04

Drug overdose deaths reached record levels in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show there were 93,331 reported deaths from overdoses in 2020.

That's more than 20,000 more than in 2019, an increase of about 29%. The largest annual increase in at least 50 years, the CDC said in their report.

These are preliminary numbers that will be finalized later this year by the health agency.

Experts point to lockdowns and pandemic restrictions that isolated those struggling with addiction which made treatment harder to get or consistently attend. It also kept those struggling with addiction away from others who may have identified warning signs or intervened earlier.

Where once it was prescription painkillers that drove the opioid epidemic in this country, now it's fentanyl, a dangerously addictive synthetic opioid. While there were increases in the number of overdose deaths from cocaine and methamphetamine, deaths from opioids makeup nearly three-quarters of the total.

Every state saw increases in overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020, except South Dakota and New Hampshire, which saw slight declines. States like Kentucky, South Carolina, and Vermont saw year-over-year increases in overdose deaths of 50% or more.

In 2020, more than 378,000 Americans lost their lives to COVID-19, another 93,000 died from drug overdose deaths, making last year the deadliest year in U.S. history.