Drug overdose deaths spiked to more than 93,000 in 2020, a record showing the deadly opioid epidemic continues to rage across the country.
The death toll represents a 30% spike from a then-record number of deaths in 2019, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, as codified efforts to prevent the abuse of synthetic fentanyl were crippled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Professor Keith Humphreys, a drug and addiction expert at Stanford University, described the 93,331 overdose deaths in 2020 as evidence to suggest this is the “worst overdose crisis” at any point in the history of the country.
ARIZONA SENATE PRESIDENT SAYS 2020 ELECTION AUDIT’S BALLOT COUNT DIFFERS FROM MARICOPA TALLY
“Every one of those people, somebody loved them,” he told the Washington Post. “It’s terrifying. It’s the biggest increase in overdose deaths in the history of the United States. It’s the worst overdose crisis in the history of the United States, and we’re not making progress. It’s really overwhelming.”
The 2020 figure added to the nearly 841,000 people who died due to drug overdoses between 1999 and 2019 brings the total number of people who have died in the U.S. since the drug epidemic began to more than 900,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Opioids, usually fentanyl or other illegal synthetic drugs, accounted for most of the overdose deaths in 2019 and 2020, making up at least 72.9% of deaths in 2020, up from 70.6% in 2019.
While the Trump administration attempted to fight back the epidemic in 2020, its efforts to contain the spread of fentanyl were impeded by the coronavirus pandemic.
Tami Mark, a senior fellow at the think tank RTI International, pointed to the impact of the pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 Americans since December 2019 because it distracted from and worsened the drug epidemic.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
“We took our eye off the opioid epidemic,” Mark said. “When we weren’t looking, it got horribly worse.”
The coronavirus pandemic persists as the Biden administration is combating the spread of coronavirus variants, including the delta variant, which now accounts for the majority of new cases in the country.