More Americans are dying from drug overdoses than ever before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were an estimated 100,306 fatal overdoses over the 12 months through April 2021 — the most ever reported in a 12-month period and double the annual number of car accidents and firearm deaths combined.
The record number of deadly overdoses marks a 29% increase from the same period a year earlier and is more than double the number reported as recently as 2014. Public health experts attribute the surge to the proliferation of fentanyl — a synthetic opioid reported to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine — as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has isolated many Americans struggling with addiction while reducing their treatment options and care resources.
In Tennessee, drug overdose deaths are rising at a faster pace than they are nationwide. There were an estimated 3,581 fatal overdoses in Tennessee over the 12 months ending in April 2021, compared to 2,385 over the same period the year prior. The 50.1% increase ranks as the fifth largest of all 46 states that reported an increase in deadly overdoses.
Of all drug classifications identified by the CDC, including synthetic synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids, cocaine, heroin, psychostimulants like methamphetamine, and methadone (a drug used to treat heroin and opioid addiction), synthetic opioids had the largest increase in fatalities in the state, up 80.1% from a year earlier.
The fatal drug overdose rate in Tennessee now stands at 51.8 deaths for every 100,000 people, the second highest among all states. Nationwide, the per capita fatality rate stands at 30.3 per 100,000.
All overdose data used in this story are from the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the CDC. To account for pending investigations and incomplete counts, the numbers reported are estimates calculated by the NCHS. Population-adjusted fatality rates were calculated using population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Decennial Census.
|Rank||State||1-yr change in fatal overdoses||Drug OD deaths, 12 mos. ending April 2021||Deaths per 100,000 people, 2021||Drug OD deaths, 12 mos. ending April 2020||Deaths per 100,000 people 2020|
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