Data Shows Sharp Rise in Drug Overdose Deaths During 2020

by ian

Ian Patrick, FISM News


According to preliminary data released from the CDC, deaths attributed to drug overdoses soared in the United States in the year 2020. The likely reasons for the increase include the pandemic lockdowns and dealers lacing “more drugs with a powerful synthetic opioid” according to Reuters.

CDC data shows that the overdose deaths rose by about 20,000 within the year, or about 30%, within the United States alone. There are just above 72,751 deaths in January 2020, and 93,331 deaths in December of that year. The absolute total in December 2020 is the highest recorded total of drug overdose deaths.


According to the line graph above, overdose deaths were rising slightly between January and April of 2020. It is between April and May that the steeper incline is shown, which has led many health officials to believe that the pandemics and its emotional effects were root causes for the amount of deaths seen after this time period.

Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, a health policy expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, says that isolation is one of the biggest reasons for the rise in deaths.

During the pandemic, a lot of (drug) programs weren’t able to operate. Street-level outreach was very difficult. People were very isolated

Bob Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the health statistics center, says that “the primary driver of the increase involves synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl.” Fentanyl was the same drug found in George Floyd’s body according to a toxicology report done after his death.


The chart titled “Figure 2” above specifies the type of drug and how many deaths were attributed to each type. The brown line represents “Synthetic opioids” such as fentanyl and tramadol, and it accounts for the most deaths of all recorded drugs since at least the end of 2016.

Of the total deaths caused by drug overdoses, almost 75% were caused by opioids in general and almost 62% were specifically caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl and tramadol.