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US drug overdose deaths, fueled by synthetic opioids, hit a new high in 2022

<i>Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty Images</i><br/>US drug overdose deaths
Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post/Getty Images
US drug overdose deaths

By Deidre McPhillips, CNN

(CNN) — Nearly 110,000 people died from drug overdoses in the United States in 2022, according to early estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overdose deaths surged during the first two years of the pandemic, exacerbating a years-long steady increase. Monthly updates to the provisional data suggest that overdose deaths have leveled off in 2022, but they still ended slightly higher than the year before.

The 109,680 overdose deaths in 2022 are the highest recorded in a calendar year, compared with 109,179 in 2021.

However, the data published by the CDC on Wednesday is subject to change, as death certificates are reviewed and records are assessed. Final data on drug overdose deaths won’t be available for months.

Fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid, has been a significant factor in the rise of deadly overdoses.

More than two-thirds of all overdose deaths in 2022 involved a synthetic opioid – more than 75,000 deaths.

Psychostimulants, such as methamphetamine, and cocaine have also become increasingly common over the past two years. Both types of drugs were involved in more than a quarter of all overdose deaths in 2022, according to provisional CDC data.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement that the Biden administration is taking actions to prevent more overdose deaths.

“We’ve expanded treatment to millions of Americans, we’re improving access to Naloxone to reverse overdoses, and we’re attacking the illicit fentanyl supply chain at every choke point,” he said.

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