Drug Overdose Deaths in U.S. Hit Record High in 2021, CDC Reports

Nearly 108,000 people in the United States died as a result of drug overdoses in 2021, the highest number recorded in a calendar year, according to figures released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 107,622 overdose deaths reported last year push the total for the 21st century, or since 2001, to more than 1 million, the CDC said.

The 2021 number marks a 15% rise over 2020, the previous record high for a calendar year, the agency said.

Overdose deaths from opioids, a class that includes "street" drugs such as heroin and prescription pain medications, such as oxycodone and fentanyl, totaled nearly 81,000 nationally in 2021, up from just over 70,000 in 2020, the data showed.

Deaths due to overdoses of synthetic, or manufactured, opioids, such as fentanyl, rose to just over 71,000 from 58,000, while those related to the use of psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine, increased to 33,000 from 25,000 over the same period, the CDC said.

Deaths from cocaine overdoses spiked to just under 25,000 in 2021 from slightly less than 20,000 the year before, the data showed.

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