In 2021, the United States has recorded more than 100,000 overdose deaths for the first time. The grim tally stood at 103,598 deaths according to preliminary numbers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released the data yesterday. The pandemic has caused a spike in U.S. overdose deaths from around 67,800 in 2018 and 71,100 in 2019 to 92,500 in 2020. Opioid abuse was the reason behind the majority of these deaths. While heroin and prescription opioids both play a role in the U.S. opioid epidemic, synthetic opioid fentanyl is the by far the deadliest part of the problem.
The latest figures by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the death rate from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl has skyrocketed over last couple of years, reaching 17.8 in every 100,000 Americans in 2020. The rates for deaths from heroin and prescription opioids stood at around four to five in 100,000 people. Because it is so much stronger than heroin or prescription painkillers, illicitly sold varieties of these drugs are sometimes laced with fentanyl to increase their potency, leading to users consuming the substance without their knowledge.
Men are more than twice as likely to die by drug overdose in the U.S. than women, their rate of death being as high as 40 in 100,000. Deaths from cocaine abuse stood at 2.9 in 100,000 people in 2020, while methamphetamine caused 4.2 deaths per 100,000 U.S. residents.