At least 87,000 drug overdose deaths were reported from October 2019 to September 2020—a 29 percent increase from the year before, according to CDC data reviewed by The New York Times. A large portion of the deaths occurred in April and May, when many treatment centers and support groups were shut down, the data reveals. This likely made it very difficult for people to receive naloxene, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses, experts say.
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told the Times that many overdose deaths involve a mix of fentanyl or heroin with stimulants. “Dealers are lacing these non-opioid drugs with cheaper, yet potent, opioids to make a larger profit,” she said. “Someone who’s addicted to a stimulant drug like cocaine or methamphetamine is not tolerant to opioids, which means they are going to be at high risk of overdose if they get a stimulant drug that’s laced with an opioid like fentanyl.”