U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Hit New Record in 2021 with 108,000 Lives Lost: CDC Report

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Drug overdose deaths have hit an all-time high over the past year, according to provisional federal data.

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2021, the United States saw a 15% increase of drug overdose deaths, with nearly 108,000 deaths recorded. This increase follows 2020's 30% increase with over 93,300 recorded deaths.

"This is indeed a continuation of an awful trend," Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told CNN. "Rates of overdose deaths have been on an upward climb for decades now, increasing at unprecedented rates right before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S."

More than half of the drug overdoses are a result of fentanyl and methamphetamine, and many deaths involved a combination of the two, according to CDC data.

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Fentanyl has become one of the biggest causes of drug overdoses in the U.S. in recent years — in just six years, between 2013 and 2019, the rate of accidental overdoses from synthetic opioids like fentanyl increased by 12%, according to the CDC.

Health officials believe the alarming rise to be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemic lockdowns and other related restrictions made it difficult for people to get treatment, while substance abuse increased as many people sought to manage stress, isolation and depression.

RELATED: How Fentanyl Became One of the Biggest Causes of Drug Overdoses in the U.S.

Last week, President Joe Biden and Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, announced a plan to address the use of meth and prevent meth-involved overdoses.

"It is unacceptable that we are losing a life to overdose every five minutes around the clock," Gupta said in a statement Wednesday. "That is why President Biden's new National Drug Control Strategy signals a new era of drug policy centered on individuals and communities, focusing specifically on the actions we must take right now to reduce overdoses and save lives. Those actions include expanding access to high impact harm reduction tools like naloxone, quickly connecting more people to treatment, disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking operations, and improving data to systems that drive the Nation's drug policy."

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.