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CDC: Concerning Increase Seen in Overdose Deaths During Pandemic

FRIDAY, Dec. 18, 2020 -- In the 12-month period ending May 2020, the highest number of overdoses ever was recorded, topping 81,000, according to a health advisory issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Based on the most recent data from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, there were about 81,230 drug overdose deaths in the United States in the 12-month period ending May 2020, representing the largest number of drug overdoses for a 12-month period ever recorded. During this time, drug overdose deaths increased more than 20 percent in 25 states. The primary driver of the increases in overdose deaths is synthetic opioids, with a 38.4 percent increase in the 12-month count of synthetic opioid deaths from the 12 months ending in June 2019 versus those ending in May 2020.

Based on community needs and characteristics, the CDC recommends expanding distribution of naloxone and promoting overdose prevention education; increasing awareness of and access to treatment for substance use disorders; providing early intervention for those at highest risk for overdose; and improving detection of overdose outbreaks to facilitate effective response.

"The disruption to daily life due to the COVID-19 pandemic has hit those with substance use disorder hard," CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., said in a statement. "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."

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Posted: December 2020

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