More than 100,000 people in the United States died of drug overdoses from May 2020 to April 2021 — an increase of 28.5% from the same period a year earlier, according to new government data. The deaths are a new record high.
Opioids, primarily fentanyl, continue to be the driving cause of these deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids caused almost two-thirds of all drug overdose deaths, up from 49% the previous year. Deaths from methamphetamine and other psychostimulants rose 48% in the year ending April 2021 compared with the previous year.
“I think the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly contributed to the increase in overdose deaths and has exacerbated the addiction crisis,” said Lindsey Vuolo, vice president of health law and policy at Partnership to End Addiction. “The economic losses, grief, anxiety and social isolation associated with the pandemic lead to increased substance use, increased demand for treatment, and put people in recovery at risk for relapse.”