In 2021, drug overdose deaths surpassed one million since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began collecting data in 1999. According to the CDC, nearly 841,000 deaths were reported from 1999 to 2019, and nearly 170,000 deaths were reported for 2020 and 2021 combined.
These numbers portray only the most recent losses in a decades-long opioid crisis afflicting American communities. Thousands of lawsuits have been brought against opioid makersand others responsible for the crisis. One recent $26 billion settlement from opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson and three key distributors will bring compensation for many affected communities.
Drug overdose deaths increased since the COVID-19 pandemic
Data from the CDC shows that deaths from drug overdose continued to rise in the last two years, an increase that coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, 91,799 deaths were reported—a 31% increase in deaths from 2019.
As of April 2021, over 100,000 deaths were reported—a 28.5% increase from the number of reported deaths at that same period in 2020.
People between ages 15-24 were most significantly affected in 2020, as overdose deaths increased by 49% in that year compared with 2019 numbers.