Jul 15, 2020 - Health

About 71,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2019

A Drug Enforcement Administration chemist handling a powder containing fentanyl in 2019.
A Drug Enforcement Administration chemist handling a powder containing fentanyl in 2019. Photo: Don Emmert/AFP via Getty Images

Roughly 71,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2019, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The figure represents a new record for the U.S. and follows 2018's slight drop in overdoses — the first time the number had gone down in almost 30 years.

By the numbers: Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl drove 2019's increase, accounting for 36,500 overdose deaths, according to AP.

  • Deaths from cocaine and methamphetamine overdoses also jumped.
  • More than 30 states are experiencing an uptick in overdose deaths.

The big picture: The rise comes despite lawmakers allotting billions of dollars to combat the opioid epidemic.

  • Health officials fear the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing recession may push overdose deaths higher this year as some Americans double down on their worst habits to cope with the mental and emotional stress of the outbreak.

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