U.S. Overdose Deaths Hit ‘Devastating’ All-Time High
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data on drug overdose deaths in the U.S., showing that an estimated 100,300 Americans died of drug overdoses between May 2020 and April 2021.
Officials say the staggering number is a never-before-reached milestone, with overdose deaths spiking nearly 30% in the last year.
“This is unacceptable and it requires an unprecedented response,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of National Drug Control Policy.
Experts theorize the top contributing factors to the increase in overdose deaths are the growing prevalence of fentanyl in illicit drug supplies and the pandemic, which left many users socially isolated and unable to receive treatment or other support.
Katherine Keyes, a Columbia University expert on drug abuse issues, called the figure “devastating.”
“It’s a magnitude of overdose death that we haven’t seen in this country,” Keyes said.
Drug overdoses now surpass annual deaths from car crashes, guns, influenza, and pneumonia. The total now nears that of diabetes-related deaths, which is the U.S.’s seventh-highest cause of death. And experts say it doesn’t look as though it’s improving any time soon.
Robert Anderson, the CDC’s chief of mortality statistics, said the 2021 tally is likely to surpass 100,000. Dr. Daniel Ciccarone, a drug policy expert at the University of California, San Francisco, concurred with Anderson’s prediction.
“2021 is going to be terrible,” Ciccarone said.
U.S. overdose deaths topped 100,000 in one year, officials say