by Bruce Walker
U.S. drug overdoses increased 15% between December 2020 and December 2021, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.
The two-year jump established new records for overdose deaths over previous years.
The Midwestern states took part in the nation’s upward trend. Minnesota, for example, recognized a 26.01% increase. Indiana jumped 21.26%, Wisconsin 13.97%, Iowa 12.41% and Michigan 9.31%.
The Associated Press reported the CDCP numbers on Wednesday, noting 107,622 drug overdose deaths occurred throughout the United States in 2021. This roughly translates into one drug overdose nearly every five minutes.
Drugs deemed responsible for the overdose deaths include:
- Natural opioid analgesics, including morphine and codeine.
- Semisynthetic opioids, including drugs such as oxycodone hydrocodone, hydromorphone and oxymorphone.
- Methadone, a synthetic opioid.
- Synthetic opioid analgesics other than methadone, including fentanyl and tramadol.
- Psychostimulants with abuse potential, which includes methamphetamine.
The CDC said the “unspecified narcotics” category is often identified as a cause of death identified when the specific substance is unknown. The CDCP also noted some overdoses result from the use of multiple types of substances.
“[A] single death might be included in more than one category when describing the number of drug overdose deaths involving specific drugs. For example, a death that involved both heroin and fentanyl would be included in both the number of drug overdose deaths involving heroin and the number of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone,” the NCHS report said.
Because drug overdose cases require extensive laboratory testing, many initial deaths are labeled as overdoses while an investigation is ongoing. This could mean the number of overdoses is higher than initially reported.
“When the percentage of records reported as ‘pending investigation’ is high for a given jurisdiction, the number of drug overdose deaths is likely to be underestimated,” the NCHS reported. “For jurisdictions reporting fewer than 1% of records as ‘pending investigation,’ the provisional number of drug overdose deaths occurring in the fourth quarter of 2015 was approximately 5% lower than the final count of drug overdose deaths occurring in that same time period.”
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.