Drug Overdose Deaths Accelerated and Broke Records in 2020

Drug Overdose Deaths Accelerated and Broke Records in 2020

CDC data shows the highest number of deaths from overdoses were recorded last year.

The CDC reported that drug overdose death tolls rose by close to 30 percent in the U.S. in 2020 with more than 93,000 people dying from overdoses, according to provisional data. That is a 29.4 percent increase from the 72,151 deaths projected for 2019.

"Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in 2020 compared to 2019. Cocaine deaths also increased in 2020, as did deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as prescription pain medication)," the NCHS said in a statement.

This is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period and the largest increase since at least 1999. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), says "These data are chilling. The COVID-19 pandemic created a devastating collision of health crises in America."

In the U.S., opioids have been a major issue and steadily worsen and increase decade by decade. According to an article, some member of congress have been blamed for approving new synthetic opioids as well as those who created some of the drugs, mainly including Oxycontin maker, Purdue Pharma. According to a press release, the CDC issued a health advisory to medical and public health professionals, first responders, harm reduction organizations and other community partners recommending the following actions:

  • Expand distribution and use of naloxone and overdose prevention education.
  • Expand awareness about and access to and availability of treatment for substance use disorders.
  • Intervene early with individuals at highest risk for overdose.
  • Improve detection of overdose outbreaks to facilitate more effective response.

Learn more about what the CDC is doing to prevent opioid related deaths here.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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