Drug overdose deaths have spiked in the U.S. due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, a new advisory finds.
More than 81,000 fatalities occurred in the 12-month period ending in May 2020, a nearly 20 percent rise from the 12-month period ending in June 2019, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This has especially been driven by increased use of fentanyl, the synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine.
In 25 states, opioid-related deaths have soared by more than 20 percent over the 12-month period.
The pandemic has created the perfect breeding ground for addiction with many turning to opioids to cope with job losses and the deaths of loved ones to the programs being canceled or replaced with telemedicine for those trying to maintain sobriety.
More than 81,000 drug overdoses deaths have occurred in the U.S. over the 12-month period ending in May 2020 (far left)
Only four states have reported a decrease in overdose deaths, and 25 states have reported increases of more than 20%
‘The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,’ said CDC Director Dr Robert Redfield in a statement.
‘As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it’s important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways. We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences.’
For the advisory, the CDC looked at death records received and processed by the National Center for Health Statistics.
After overdose deaths declined by 4.1 percent from 2017 to 2018, the number rose by 18.2 percent from the 12-months ending in June 2019 to the 12-months ending in May 2020.
Specifically drug overdose deaths seem to have accelerated during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Increases first began being seen from 12-month period ending in February 2020 to the 12 months ending in March 2020, rising from 74,185 deaths to 75,696 deaths.
By April 2020, the 12-month period recorded 77,842 deaths, which increased to 81,230 death for the 12-months period ending in May 2020.
The one-month increase between April and May of 3,388 deaths is the largest monthly increase recorded since provisional 12-month estimates began in January 2015, according to the CDC.
The CDC also found that, prior, to the pandemic, the average increase in 12-month estimates was 680. During the pandemic, this figure rose to 2,348.
‘The increase in overdose deaths is concerning,’ said Dr Deb Houry, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in a statement.
‘CDC’s Injury Center continues to help and support communities responding to the evolving overdose crisis. Our priority is to do everything we can to equip people on the ground to save lives in their communities.’
In 25 states and the District of Columbia, drug overdose deaths increased more than 20 percent from June 2019 to May 2020.
Synthetic-opioid overdose deaths have spiked by 38.4% between the 12-month period ending in June 2019 and the period ending in May 2020
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