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US overdose deaths hit record 93,000 in pandemic last year

Opioid crisis continues amid pandemic: Some concerned isolation could lead to more overdoses
Posted at 9:26 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 21:26:00-04

NEW YORK (AP) — Overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government estimate released Wednesday eclipses the 72,000 drug overdose deaths in 2019 and amounts to a 29% increase.

Kentucky had a total of 53 percent for 2020 with more than 2,000 overdose deaths. In 2019, Kentucky had more than 1,300 overdose deaths.

Kentucky came in second with the highest percentage of overdose deaths.

Vermont saw the highest percentage in the country with 57.6%

Doctors with the National Institute on Drug Abuse say the country saw its largest increase in overdose deaths since 1999.

Experts say lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions isolated those with drug addictions and made treatment harder to get.

Prescription painkillers once drove the opioid epidemic in the U.S. But now it is fentanyl, a dangerously powerful opioid.

Overdose deaths in 2020 are just one facet of what was overall the deadliest year in U.S. history, with about 378,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19.