For the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated news headlines, but there is a second health crisis happening in America. Our team of analysts found that drug overdose deaths have risen by nearly 27% in the last year. Nationwide, more than 87,000 people died of an overdose in 2020, nearly 20,000 more than in 2019.
- Nationwide, 87,203 people died of an overdose in 2020, compared to 68,757 in 2019.
- Louisiana, Kentucky and West Virginia have had the highest increases in overdose-related deaths.
- Pennsylvania, Florida and California had the highest numbers of overdose deaths overall.
- Combined, opioids account for nearly 70% of overdose deaths.
The increase in overdose-related deaths has struck some states particularly hard. Louisiana, Kentucky and West Virginia saw increases of nearly 50% or more, while 18 other states had 30% or more increases in overdose-related deaths. South Dakota is the only state that saw a decrease in overdose deaths.
|State||# of overdose deaths in 2019||# of overdose deaths in 2020||% change in overdose deaths 2019-2020||Additional overdose deaths|
Opioids are the leading cause of overdose deaths. Since 2015, opioids have accounted for nearly 65,000 deaths, 34% of all drug overdoses. If we factor in synthetic, natural and semi-synthetic opioids, then the number of opioid-related deaths since 2015 rises to 129,000 — 70% of all overdose deaths.
The dramatic rise in opioid-related overdose deaths hasn’t gone unnoticed. President Joe Biden recently unveiled a five-part plan to address the growing number of overdose deaths. One key component of the plan is a $125 billion expansion of prevention, treatment and recovery services. Health care coverage varies by state, but most health insurance plans cover substance abuse treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please consult the resource below.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- 1-800-662-4357 (HELP)
- SAMHSA Hotline Website
Overdose death statistics were compiled using data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data was then broken down on a state-by-state and year-over-year basis.