The highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period happened this year in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the year ending May 2020, the latest accounting released by the CDC.
Overdose deaths have been increasing in the months preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest numbers suggest an acceleration of overdose deaths during the pandemic, the CDC said.
“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D.
Synthetic opioids (primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl) appear to be the primary driver of the increases in overdose deaths, increasing 38.4% over 2019. State-specific information about Alaska overdose deaths was not released.
- 37 of the 38 U.S. jurisdictions with available synthetic opioid data reported increases in synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths.
- 18 of these jurisdictions reported increases greater than 50%.
- 10 western states reported over a 98% increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths.
- Overdose deaths involving cocaine increased by 26.5%. These deaths are likely linked to co-use or contamination of cocaine with manufactured fentanyl or heroin, the CDC said. Overdose deaths involving psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine, increased by 34.8%.
- The number of deaths involving psychostimulants now exceeds the number of cocaine-involved deaths.