A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds more than 87,000 Americans died of overdoses in the 12-month period that ended in September — a 29% increase from the previous year.
The number of overdoses was higher than any year since the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s, The New York Times reports. The largest increase took place in April and May, when people were experiencing fear and stress from the pandemic, the strictest lockdown measures were in effect, and job losses were on the rise.
Overdoses most frequently involved fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. Many fatal overdoses also involved other stimulant drugs, especially methamphetamine.
“The highest increase in mortality from opioids, predominantly driven by fentanyl, is now among Black Americans,” Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said at a national addiction conference last week. “And when you look at mortality from methamphetamine, it’s chilling to realize that the risk of dying from methamphetamine overdose is 12-fold higher among American Indians and Alaskan Natives than other groups.”