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2020 Overdose Deaths Exceed 93,000

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Posted by: Eddie Ingram
Date: Sep 09 2021 9:43 AM

The Drug Overdose Toll in 2020 Exceeded 93,000


Synthetic Opioids Including Fentanyl Helped Drive Record-High Overdose Deaths in 2020

Recently released data by the CDC show that drug overdose deaths in the U.S. reached a record high of 93,331 in 2020. While these estimates are not final, this is more than 20,000 deaths above the previous high in 2019 and the largest single-year percentage increase on record since 1999. Since 2015 the percentage of all U.S. deaths attributed to overdoses has grown from 1.9 percent to 2.8 percent, even as COVID-19 increased total deaths by more than 300,000 in 2020.

Deaths related to synthetic opioids played a large role in these explosive increases. Pre-pandemic research documented the rapid and deadly growth of fentanyl within the drug supply, including in combination with drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. Researchers have pointed to elevated drug use and higher-risk usage — such as cutting or mixing drugs from an unreliable supply and using in isolation — as potential factors in the pandemic’s deadly surge.

The new CDC data show that deaths at least partially attributable to synthetic opioids likely increased by around 20,000 (54%) in 2020, while deaths involving cocaine (21%) and other psychostimulants like methamphetamine (46%) also rose dramatically. In 2015, synthetic opioids were involved in only 18 percent of all overdose deaths; in 2020, it appears to be more than 60 percent.

Synthetic opioids are commonly laced with Fentanyl and are readily available in today’s illicit drug market.

The overdose death rate in 2021 is on track to exceed that of 2020.  

Report released by the CDC in August 2021.

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