Deaths Due To Drug Overdose Top 100,000, U.S. Researchers Say
Americans died of drug overdoses in record numbers as the pandemic spread across the country, federal researchers reported on Wednesday, the result of lost access to treatment, rising mental health problems and wider availability of dangerously potent new street drugs, Roni Caryn Rabin reported for the New York Times.
Photo Insert: Dealers have been mixing fentanyl with other drugs — another reason for the rising deaths from methamphetamines and cocaine.
In the 12-month period that ended in April, more than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses, up almost 30 percent from the 78,000 deaths in the prior year, according to provisional figures from the National Center for Health Statistics.
The figure marks the first time the number of overdose deaths in the United States has exceeded 100,000 a year, more than the toll of car accidents and guns combined. Overdose deaths have more than doubled since 2015.
Reporting for the Associated Press (AP), Mike Stobbe wrote that overdose deaths have been rising for more than two decades, accelerated in the past two years and, according to new data posted Wednesday, jumped nearly 30% in the latest year.
Experts believe the top drivers are the growing prevalence of deadly fentanyl in the illicit drug supply and the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many drug users socially isolated and unable to get treatment or other support.
Drawing from the latest available death certificate data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 100,300 Americans died of drug overdoses from May 2020 to April 2021.
The CDC previously reported there were about 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020, the highest number recorded in a calendar year. Many of the deaths involve illicit fentanyl, a highly lethal opioid that five years ago surpassed heroin as the type of drug involved in the most overdose deaths.
Dealers have mixed fentanyl with other drugs — one reason that deaths from methamphetamines and cocaine also are rising.
CDC found the estimated death toll rose in all but four states — Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and South Dakota — compared with the same period a year earlier. The states with the largest increases were Vermont (70%), West Virginia (62%), and Kentucky (55%).