Speed Reads


U.S. drug overdose deaths hit a 'staggering' record in 2020

The United States in 2020 saw the highest number of drug overdose deaths on record, "staggering" data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed. 

There were an estimated 93,331 deaths from overdoses last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, about a 30 percent increase from 2019, a report said Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. This was the biggest jump from year to year since 2016, when the number of drug overdose deaths rose by 11,000, and it surpassed the record of 72,000 in 2019, The Associated Press reports

"This is a staggering loss of human life," Brown University public health researcher Brandon Marshall said, per AP

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously reported an "acceleration" of overdose deaths during the pandemic, with then-CDC Director Robert Redfield saying, "The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard." According to the Post, 69,710 of the overdose deaths in 2020 involved opioids. 

"Every one of those people, somebody loved them," Stanford University professor Keith Humphreys told the Post. "It's terrifying. It's the biggest increase in overdose deaths in the history of the United States, it's the worst overdose crisis in the history of the United States, and we're not making progress. It's really overwhelming."