According to provisional data on drug overdose deaths in 2020, nearly 93,331 people have died from overdoses in the United States. The data, released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Center for Health Statistics, is the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded. According to the data, a nearly 30% increase in overdose deaths was reported in 2020 compared to the previous year, which is the largest increase reported since 1999. In addition, three-quarters of overdose deaths were due to synthetic opioids and illegally manufactured fentanyl.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, overdose deaths began to increase, and many prevention programs were either shut down or had very limited access. For more information on the pandemic’s impact on the opioid epidemic, see the October 2020 cover story of Innovations®.