For the first time, more than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. over the course of a year.
Drug overdoses killed over 100,000 Americans in the one-year period between April of 2020 and April of 2021, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Overdose deaths have been rising over the past two decades, but they’ve accelerated dramatically over the past few years, and NCHS data shows overdose deaths actually went up 28.9% from the year before.
The data shows many of these deaths involved fentanyl, a highly lethal opioid. It’s often mixed with other drugs, which is one reason why deaths from methamphetamine and cocaine are also on the rise, The Associated Press reports.
In a statement about the “tragic milestone,” President Joe Biden said the U.S. cannot overlook the drug epidemic as it makes strides in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we grieve those we’ve lost and honor their memories, my administration is committed to doing everything in our power to address addiction and end the overdose epidemic,” wrote Biden. “Through the American Rescue Plan, we’ve delivered nearly $4 billion to strengthen and expand services for substance use disorder and mental health.”
Biden said his administration is working to make health coverage more accessible and affordable. He also said the White House is strengthening prevention, promoting harm reduction, expanding treatment, and supporting people in recovery, as well as reducing the supply of harmful substances in the U.S.
“To all those families who have mourned a loved one and to all those people who are facing addiction or are in recovery: you are in our hearts, and you are not alone. Together, we will turn the tide on this epidemic,” said Biden.
The NCHS provided the graphic below that illustrates the drug overdoses in the U.S.