More than 81,000 Americans died from a drug overdose during the 12 months ending in May, the highest number ever recorded during a 12-month period, according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC issued a health advisory in response to the increase in drug overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. The advisory, issued to medical and public health professionals, first responders and harm reduction organizations, recommends a number of actions, including expanding distribution and use of naloxone and overdose prevention education.
According to a CDC news release, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids appear to be the primary driver of the rise in overdose deaths, increasing by 38.4%. Overdose deaths involving cocaine also rose by 26.5%, HealthDay reports.
“The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. “As we continue the fight to end this pandemic, it’s important to not lose sight of different groups being affected in other ways. We need to take care of people suffering from unintended consequences.”