WASHINGTON D.C - The National Center for Health Statistics reports that approximately 81,230 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12-months ending in May 2020.
The CDC says this represents a worsening of the drug overdose epidemic in the United States and is the largest number of drug overdoses for a 12-month period ever recorded.
The CDC says after declining 4.1% from 2017 to 2018,2 the number of overdose deaths increased 18.2% from the 12-months ending in June 2019to the 12-months ending in May 2020.
The report finds over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States in the 12 months ending in May 2020, the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period, according to recent provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. “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.”
The CDC says Synthetic opioids (primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl) appear to be the primary driver of the increases in overdose deaths, increasing 38.4 percent from the 12-month period leading up to June 2019 compared with the 12-month period leading up to May 2020. During this time period:
- 37 of the 38 U.S. jurisdictions with available synthetic opioid data reported increases in synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths.
- 18 of these jurisdictions reported increases greater than 50 percent.
- 10 western states reported over a 98 percent increase in synthetic opioid-involved deaths.
Overdose deaths involving cocaine also increased by 26.5 percent said the CDC.
“The increase in overdose deaths is concerning.” said Deb Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “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.”
- Expand distribution and use of naloxone and overdose prevention education.
- Expand awareness about and access to and availability of treatment for substance use disorders.
- Intervene early with individuals at highest risk for overdose.
- Improve detection of overdose outbreaks to facilitate more effective response.
What the CDC says you can do to help:
- Learn about the risks of opioids.
- Learn about naloxone, its availability, and how to use it.
- Help people struggling with opioid use disorder to find the right care and treatment.
- Learn more about CDC’s overdose surveillance and prevention efforts in your community
- Learn more about what may help if you or someone you care about is increasing drug use during the COVID-19 pandemic.