The Number of Fatal ODs We Just Suffered Is Huge

Number crests 100K for first time ever
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2021 11:30 AM CST
The Number of Fatal ODs We Just Suffered Is Huge
This photo shows an arrangement of oxycodone pills in New York on Aug. 29, 2018.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

As if COVID wasn't enough of a mortality whammy, now this: The CDC on Wednesday announced that Americans suffered more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in a 12-month period for the first time ever. Between May 2019 and April 2020 there were 78,056 overdose deaths. Over the following year, that figure jumped 29% to 100,306. The New York Times notes that 100,000 mark is greater than the number of people lost to car accidents and gunshots. The total is approaching that of diabetes, the seventh biggest killer in America. The Washington Post puts it like so: "The people who died—275 every day—would fill the stadium where the University of Alabama plays football. Together, they equal the population of Roanoke, Va."

Opioids (including fentanyl) made up more than 75% of the deaths. Fatal ODs from meth and cocaine also rose, while heroin deaths decreased. Only four states saw a decrease in overdose deaths, per NBC News: Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and South Dakota. Some states suffered significant increases: Vermont tops that list, with a 70% rise, followed by West Virginia at 62%, Kentucky at 55%, Louisiana at 52%, and Tennessee at 50%. As for what's fueling the rise, the AP reports that experts suspect it's a combination of the growing presence of deadly fentanyl in illegal drugs, as well as the pandemic, which spurred social isolation and made it tougher to seek treatment. (Read more overdose stories.)

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