Oct 13, 2021 - Health

U.S. sees record high of 96,000 drug overdose deaths in 12 month period

Opioid pills

Tramadol pills, an opioid. Photo: Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded over 96,000 deaths from drug overdoses in a twelve-month period ending in March 2021, according to provisional data released Wednesday.

Why it matters: It's a nearly 30% jump over the preceding 12 months and coincides with one of the deadliest periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, when stay-at-home orders radically changed daily life for most Americans.

  • In July, the CDC reported that drug overdoses had hit a high in 2020, in large part due to the increased prevalence of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Of note: The data presented is provisional as many cases require "lengthy investigation" to confirm a cause of death, per the CDC.

By the numbers: The reported number of overdoses in the 12-month period ending in March 2021 was 96,779. The predicted number of cases for the same period is 99,106 deaths.

  • It's a 29.6% increase in reported deaths from March 2020.
  • All but 3 states saw increases in overdose deaths with Vermont experiencing the largest – 85.1% – jump.

What they're saying: "It is important to remember that behind these devastating numbers are families, friends, and community members who are grieving the loss of loved ones," Regina LaBelle, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told CNN.

Watch: A conversation on COVID-19 and America’s opioid crisis

Go deeper: Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in the U.S.

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