The number of drug overdoses increased to record high levels in 2019, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are continuing to climb, The New York Times reports.
Drug overdose deaths in the United States decreased for the first time in 25 years in 2018. That decrease was due in large part to a drop in deaths from prescription opioid medications, according to the newspaper. The number of overdoses increased 5% from 2018 to 2019, and preliminary data suggests the number is continuing to rise this year. Drug overdoses have increased an average of 13% so far this year, according to mortality data from state and local governments collected by the newspaper.
The COVID-19 pandemic likely is contributing to the increase this year, according to Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health. “We understand that there is an extraordinary amount of work to do, especially now as we are also dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic that could markedly affect our nation’s mental health and risk of substance use,” he said in a statement.