The US government reported, 93,000 Americans died due to drug overdose in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and setting a record last year.
The estimate high of about 72,000 drug overdose deaths reached the previous year and amounts to a 29% increase.
“This is a staggering loss of human life,” said Brandon Marshall, a Brown University Public Health researcher who tracks overdose trends.
The nation was already struggling with its worst overdose pandemic but clearly “COVID has greatly exacerbated the crisis,” he added.
Opioids, primarily illicity manufactured fentanyl, were responsible for 69,710 of the deaths. Deaths involving psychostimulants with abuse potential, such as methamphetamine, were also up.
Vermont, Kentucky, South Carolina, west Virginia and California hits the biggest spikes.
Lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions isolated those with drug addiction and made treatment harder to get, experts said.
Since 1999, more than 500,000 Americans have died of opioid overodoses, both prescription and non-presciotion.
Corporate drugmakers such as Purdue Pharma have been taken to court on criminal charges over their drives to push unnecessary sales of prescription opioids, which stoked a nationwide addiction crisis.