CDC data show overdose deaths in U.S. hit record high amid COVID-19 pandemic

Drug deaths jumped 25% from prior year.

Updated: February 20, 2021 - 10:48pm

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Drug overdoses in the U.S. reportedly hit a record-high number in 2020, a likely indicator of the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, months-long lockdowns and economic woes experienced by much of the country this year. 

The CDC says overdose deaths for July 2020—the latest month on record—numbered 83,544 for the preceding 12-month period, a roughly 25% increase from July of 2019. 

The federal agency warned that the actual number of deaths for that period could run as high as 86,000 pending more data.

Though overdoses began increasing late in 2019, just prior to the start of the pandemic, CDC data indicate the U.S. experienced a markedly sharp uptick throughout the first seven months of 2020 overall, a spike that came after several years of flat or declining overdoses.