Deaths from drug overdoses rose almost 15% in the U.S. last year, topping 100,000 and setting another grim record, according to provisional data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
An estimated 107,622 died from drug overdose deaths in 2021, based on figures from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics released Wednesday. The rate of increase did abate from 2020, when deaths soared 30%.
The data highlight the persistent nature of the drug epidemic in the country, even as the toll is obscured by coronavirus casualties — which are closing in on 1 million. In fact substance abuse rose dramatically in the first year of the COVID-19 crisis, causing the spike in overdoses in 2020.
Last year, opioids were once again responsible for the vast majority of overdose deaths in the country. Opioids — including prescription pain medicine — accounted for about three-quarters of the total, according to the CDC.
The COVID-era surge in drug usage may have hampered the recovery in the labor force participation, which remain lower than before then pandemic, according to recent paper by the Atlanta Federal Reserve.
The authors found that increased substance abuse accounted for 9% to 26% of the decline in labor force participation among workers age 25 to 54 — so-called prime age — between February 2020 and June 2021.