Overdose deaths jumped 29% in 2020, CDC says

More than 87,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending last September — the highest annual death toll recorded since the opioid crisis started in the late 1990s, according to preliminary CDC data released April 14.

The U.S. reported 87,203 fatal overdoses from October 2019 through September 2020 — the most recent data available — marking a 29 percent jump from the year prior. 

Fatal overdoses fell in 2018 for the first time since 1990, but started ticking up again in the months leading up to the pandemic, reports The New York Times. The exact cause of this increase is unclear, but the data suggests the pandemic has worsened this trend.

Fatal overdoses saw the largest jump in May and April 2020 when the nation's strictest lockdown measures were in place, and many Americans grappled with job losses and other financial hardship, according to the Times

Black Americans are also dying of opioid overdoses at a disproportionately higher rate, according to Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Previously, most fatal opioid overdoses involved white Americans in rural and suburban parts of the country.

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