An estimated 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in a single year, a record that health officials attribute to the pandemic and growing drug strength.
Overdose deaths have been on the rise for two decades, and new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm the increase. The CDC estimated that 100,306 people died of drug overdoses between May 2020 and April 2021, surpassing the number of deaths from car crashes, guns, and pneumonia.
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All but four states saw death counts increase in comparison to a year earlier. The most significant increases to date were Vermont (70%), West Virginia (62%), and Kentucky (55%), the CDC found. The only states without increases were Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and South Dakota.
The CDC previously reported that the number of overdose deaths rose 30%, with a record 93,000 deaths in 2020. 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 2020 deaths, up from 70.6% in 2019.
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The Biden administration called for additional funding to combat addiction amid the record levels of drug overdoses in the United States in May.
Regina LaBelle, the acting director of the National Drug Control Policy, said in the statement that President Joe Biden's call to increase funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment came at a time when the country "urgently" needed to "implement evidence-based policy priorities" to tackle the overdose epidemic.