Health and Medicine

What’s behind the historic spike in drug overdose deaths under COVID-19?

By Laura Santhanam, PBS

In a year when the coronavirus has racked up an unbearable death toll, recent preliminary data from the federal government suggests an overlap with another staggering figure: More Americans died from drug overdose in a 12-month period than at any other point in history.

While the vaccination of more than 1 million Americans in recent days is buoying hope that health officials could be gaining a foothold over the pandemic, the same can’t be said for the opioid crisis, which has been killing people for far longer than COVID-19 and in the last year alone claimed tens of thousands of American lives. The numbers confirm early anecdotal reports of a rise in fatalities and follow a decrease in the year before.

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