US records more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in a year
Over 100,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses during the 12-month period ending April 2021, setting a grim record, according to data published on Wednesday.
That marks a 28.5% jump from the previous year, with deaths from opioids such as fentanyl, which can be 100 times more potent than morphine, and psychostimulants including methamphetamine helping drive the increase, provisional data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed.
"As we continue to make strides to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot overlook this epidemic of loss, which has touched families and communities across the country," U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement.
Data in July showed that last year's drug overdoses jumped 30% as pandemic lockdowns made getting treatment difficult and dealers laced more drugs with fentanyl or copycat versions of the potent opioid.
Drug suppliers more frequently mixed the powerful synthetic opioid with cocaine and methamphetamine to boost their effects, health officials said. Even minuscule amounts of fentanyl make the drugs far more dangerous to users.
The new data showed that deaths from cocaine and prescription pain drugs also increased compared to the previous year.
The U.S. states with the biggest percentage spike in overdose deaths were Vermont at 70%, followed by West Virginia (62.2%) and Kentucky (54.5%).
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