Drug overdoses claimed over 100,000 American lives in 2021, more than ever

More than 100,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2021, more than in any other year on record, according to data released by the National Center for Health Statistics Wednesday.

The National Center for Health Statistics said at least 107,622 people died from overdoses in 2021, a major increase from the estimated 93,655 deaths in 2020.

Provisional drug overdose death counts are based on death records received and processed by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) as of a specified cutoff date. The cutoff date is generally the first Sunday of each month.

National provisional estimates include deaths occurring within the 50 states and the District of Columbia. NCHS receives the death records from state vital registration offices through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program (VSCP).

Mortality statistics are compiled in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) regulations specifying that WHO member nations classify and code causes of death with the current revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). ICD provides the basic guidance used in virtually all countries to code and classify causes of death.

The new data documents that estimated overdose deaths from opioids increased to 75,673 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, up from 56,064 the year before. Overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) and psychostimulants such as methamphetamine also increased in the 12-month period ending in April 2021. Cocaine deaths also increased, as did deaths from natural and semi-synthetic opioids (such as prescription pain medication).

The provisional data presented in this visualization include: the reported and predicted (estimated) provisional counts of deaths due to drug overdose occurring nationally and in each jurisdiction; a U.S. map of the percentage changes in provisional drug overdose deaths for the current 12-month ending period compared with the 12-month period ending in the same month of the previous year, by jurisdiction; and the reported and predicted provisional counts of drug overdose deaths involving specific drugs or drug classes occurring nationally and in selected jurisdictions.

The reported and predicted provisional counts represent the numbers of deaths due to drug overdose occurring in the 12-month periods ending in the month indicated. These counts include all seasons of the year and are insensitive to variations by seasonality. Deaths are reported by the jurisdiction in which the death occurred.

The interactive web dashboard is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm.

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