May 2, 2021 – THE UNITED STATES is still grappling with the deadly coronavirus pandemic, yet, sadly, that is far from the nation’s only public health crisis. The opioid addiction epidemic that was already raging before March 2020 appears to be getting worse, in part because hardships and isolation stress brought on by covid and the attendant economic shutdown are adding to mental health strains.

Whereas annual drug overdose deaths in the United States had hovered around 70,000 — an intolerably high level — from 2017 through 2019, evidence suggests that they accelerated last year. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that there were 90,237 drug-overdose deaths in the 12 months ending in September 2020, a leading indicator that implies a substantial increase over 2019’s total of 70,630, when final figures for all of 2020 are in. Seventy percentof drug overdose deaths are opioid-related, according to the most recent CDC figures.



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