Drug overdose rates have climbed significantly over the past year.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were an estimated 96,801 deaths from drug overdose in the 12-month period ending in February 2021. Overall, an increase of over 20,000 drug overdose deaths above the 74,234 overdose deaths predicted in the 12-month period ending in February 2020. An analysis of trends in overdose rates provides information on the extent of the problem, as well as the specific drugs contributing to overdose deaths.

Overdose Rate Trends

Source: CDC.gov.

The last year has seen an increase in overdose deaths, but this is reflective of a general trend that has persisted over the past six years. During the 12-month period ending in January 2015, there were 48,126 fatal overdoses, meaning that overdose deaths have essentially doubled since that time.

Pre-Covid-19 Overdose Trends

Trendlines show a mostly steady increase in drug overdose deaths since 2015. Rates generally leveling off in 2017, before increasing again at the end of 2019.

Post-Covid-19 Overdose Trends

As researchers have explained, the increase in overdose deaths could be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic when people lost social support and experienced interruptions in treatment services due to stay-at-home orders. Being in isolation also reduces the presence of bystanders who can intervene in the case of an overdose, leading to increased risk of death.

What drugs are contributing to increasing overdose rates?

Researchers have noted an increase in opiate overdose deaths, which is consistent with CDC data.

According to a March 2021 report from the CDC, over 70% of overdose deaths in 2019 involved an opioid drug like heroin. Additionally, most opioid overdoses involve a synthetic drug like fentanyl. Unfortunately, the United States has also seen an increase in deaths from stimulant drugs like methamphetamines in recent years, both in combination with opioids and on their own. Per the CDC, the Northeastern US has seen the greatest climb in deaths from stimulants.

Solving the Problem

Given the recent increase in overdose rates, particularly for opioids and stimulants, overdose prevention is critical. Some key overdose prevention strategies include: improving the prescription of opioid drugs, using overdose reversal remedies, and increasing the availability of harm reduction interventions.

Access to treatment is integral. Individuals who enter treatment and develop the skills for abstaining from drug use significantly decrease their risk of overdose.

If you’re ready to begin treatment to turn your life around, iRecoveryUSA is here to help. We offer completely virtual addiction treatment, which includes MAT, individual counseling, and group counseling, via our telehealth portal. Contact us today to get started.