A record number of Americans died of drug overdoses during the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, new federal government figures reveal.
Between March 2020 — when most states began enacting lockdowns and stay-at-home orders — and March 2021, there were 96,779 overdose deaths, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease’s National Center for Health Statistics (CDC). Control and Prevention (CDC). (NCH).
This represents a 29.5 percent increase from the approximately 74,679 drug overdose deaths recorded in the past 12 months ending March 2020.
The spike appears to be mainly caused by increased opioid use since last year, especially fentanyl, the synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.
The pandemic has created the perfect breeding ground for addiction, with many turning to opioids to cope with job losses and the deaths of loved ones as programs have been canceled or replaced with telemedicine for those trying to stay sober.
Between March 2020 and March 2021, the US recorded a record 96,779 drug overdose deaths, new CDC data shows (above)
It’s a 30.8% increase from the 74,679 overdose deaths reported in the 12-month period from March 2019 to March 2020. Pictured: Firefighters and paramedics along with the Anne Arundel County Fire Department transport a patient after responding to a call for cardiac arrest due to drug overdose in Brooklyn, Maryland, May 2020
The CDC looked at death data received and processed by the NCHS’s National Vital Statistics System.
After the number of overdose deaths fell between November 2017 and March 2019, the number of fatalities started to rise again.
In particular, drug overdose deaths appear to have increased during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The increases first started from the 12-month period ending March 2020 to the 12-month period ending April 2020, rising from 74,676 deaths to 77,017 deaths.
In May 2020, the 12-month period recorded 80,577 deaths, with a sustained increase through March 2021.
Only three states, New Hampshire, New Jersey and South Dakota, saw their drug overdose deaths drop from March 2020 to March 2021.
Three states saw a decline, with South Dakota reporting the largest drop at 16.3%, while Vermont saw the largest increase at 85.1%
Opioids (black line) were the leading cause of overdose deaths, followed by synthetic opioids (brown line), excluding methadone
The biggest drop occurred in South Dakota, with a 16.3 percent drop.
Meanwhile, every other state, and the District of Columbia, saw deaths rise, with Vermont reporting the largest spike of 85.1 percent over the 12-month period.
The report found that opioids were the leading cause of overdose deaths, followed by synthetic opioids, with the exception of methadone.
Deaths from synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, increased 53 percent from the 12 months ended March 2020 compared to the 12 months ended March 2021.
In addition, methadone, which treats opioid use disorders, saw the fewest number of overdose deaths during this period.
Earlier this year, the CDC released a preliminary report showing 93,331 drug overdose deaths had been recorded in the U.S. in 2020, a 29.4% increase from 72,151 deaths reported in 2019.
“It’s important to remember that behind these devastating numbers are families, friends and community members who are grieving the loss of loved ones,” said Regina LaBelle, acting director of the Executive Office of the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. CNN.
She encouraged Congress to approve President Joe Biden’s budget request to help fund programs that treat and prevent substance abuse.
The preliminary data comes just a few months after the CDC released another preliminary report detailing how 93,300 overdose deaths occurred in 2020.
That represents a 29.4 percent increase from 72,000 deaths reported in 2019 and is the largest ever increase in a year.
dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, deplored the increased and encouraged efforts to reduce overdose deaths.
“This has been an incredibly uncertain and stressful time for many people and we are seeing an increase in drug use, difficulties in accessing life-saving treatments for substance use disorders and a tragic increase in overdose deaths,” he said. them in a statement. pronunciation.
“As we continue to address both the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid crisis, we must prioritize making treatment options more widely available for people with substance use disorders.”