U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Up ~30 Percent in 2020

In COVID-19, Latest News
by Healthday

Increases seen in overdose deaths from opioids, as well as cocaine and psychostimulants

WEDNESDAY, July 14, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Drug overdose deaths in the United States rose nearly 30 percent in 2020, according to provisional data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

The reported and predicted provisional counts represent the numbers of deaths due to drug overdose occurring for the current 12-month-ending period compared with the 12-month period ending in the same month of the previous year, as reported by the jurisdiction in which the death occurred.

According to the report, there were an estimated 93,331 drug overdose deaths in the United States during 2020, an increase of 29.4 percent over the 72,151 deaths predicted in 2019. Specifically, there was an increase in estimated overdose deaths from opioids (50,963 in 2019 versus 69,710 in 2020). There were also increases seen in overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine, as well as deaths from cocaine and natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as prescription pain medication).

Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, called the new numbers “chilling.” “This is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, and the largest increase since at least 1999,” she said. “The COVID-19 pandemic created a devastating collision of health crises in America.”

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