Home / Health / Articles / Drug overdose deaths hit a record high in 2020

More than 90,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2020, a record high according to provisional estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Overdose deaths increased by almost 30% since the beginning of the pandemic and rose over 50% in some states.

The release of the provisional 2020 data[1] comes as state officials announce a $26 billion settlement with drug distributors Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and McKesson and pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson for their role in the opioid epidemic. The settlement money will be distributed among state and local governments for opioid treatment and prevention programs.

Overdose deaths increased by 29% in 2020.

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West Virginia had the largest number of opioid deaths per capita, at 77 deaths per 100,000 residents. The second highest was Kentucky, with 46 deaths per 100,000. Of the 10 states with the highest death rate per capita, six are in the Appalachia region. Deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl increased the most, almost doubling in many states.

West Virginia had the most opioid deaths per capita, at 77 deaths per 100,000 residents.

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Learn more about US opioid addiction and treatment over the last two decades in this opioid epidemic report and get the data directly in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter.

Provisional Overdose Death Statistics

The 2020 deaths is a provisional estimate made by the CDC, which may be underreported due to incomplete data.