US overdose deaths hit record 93,000 in pandemic last year

NEW YORK (AP) – Overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government estimate released Wednesday eclipses the 72,000 drug overdose deaths in 2019 and amounts to a 29% increase.

Experts say lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions isolated those with drug addictions and made treatment harder to get.

Prescription painkillers once drove the opioid epidemic in the U.S.

But now it is fentanyl, a dangerously powerful opioid.

Overdose deaths in 2020 are just one facet of what was overall the deadliest year in U.S. history, with about 378,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19.