New data out Wednesday from the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that overdose deaths hit a record high last year.
The agency predicted that 104,288 people died from an overdose in the 12-month period that ended in September 2021, marking an increase of nearly 16 percent and roughly 14,000 more deaths than the previous year.
States that saw the most significant changes during that time included Alaska, which saw overdoses increase by 60 percent; Vermont, which had an increase of 59 percent; and Kansas, where overdoses were up nearly 49 percent.
In the 12 month period that ended in January 2015, the CDC estimated the U.S. had 48,126 overdose-related deaths.
But in the year that preceded March 2020, estimated overdose deaths stood at 75,702, and as the pandemic upturned society and Americans’ daily lives, those numbers spiked.
By April 2021, overdose deaths in the preceding 12 months exceeded 100,000 cases, and stayed on that pace for the next six months, up until the most recent data from September.
Experts have said the trend is likely to continue even after the pandemic’s impact on daily life becomes less significant.
“If and when Covid restrictions ease, you won’t see a reversal in the same way you saw the acceleration because these drug distribution networks and addiction become embedded in the community,” Katherine Keyes, an associate professor at the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said to CNN in an interview. “And it’s not like they turn off overnight.”