2020 Sees Record High Opioid Deaths

While opioid prescriptions have been curtailed, overdoses resulting from opioid use disorders continue to increase, particularly among 25 to 44 year-olds. Deaths from opioid overdoses are now by far the largest cause of death among this age group.

According to CDC estimates, there were 69,710 opioid overdose deaths in 2020, exceeding peak HIV deaths (50,877 in 1995), peak car crash deaths (56,278 in 1972), and peak gun-related deaths (39,773 in 2017). According to the New York Times, "The pandemic itself undoubtedly contributed to the surge in overdose deaths, with disruption to outreach and treatment facilities and increased social isolation. Overdose deaths reached a peak nationally in the spring of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic's most severe period of shutdowns and economic contraction. But public health experts said there had been a pre-pandemic pattern of escalating deaths, as fentanyls became more entrenched in the nation's drug supply, replacing heroin in many cities and finding their way into other drugs like meth."

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