According to a report by The New York Times, more than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses in the 12-month period that ended in April. Provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that overdose deaths increased by nearly 30 percent from the 78,000 in the previous 12-month period.
The 12-month period that ended in April was the first time the country’s overdose deaths topped 100,000 a year. Overdoses accounted for more deaths than car accidents and guns combined.
Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said most overdose deaths occur among Americans ages 25-55.
“They leave behind friends, family, and children, if they have children, so there are a lot of downstream consequences,” Dr. Volkow told The New York Times. “This is a major challenge to our society.”
Since 2015, U.S. overdose deaths have more than doubled. Experts say the overdose public health crisis had been both overshadowed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts say the spike in overdose deaths can be attributed to the increasing ubiquity of fentanyl in the street drug supply, the stoppage of in-person programs for those in recovery amid the pandemic, and increased isolation and stress.