A record 100,000 overdose deaths in 12 months, driven by opioids, fentanyl

The U.S. drug epidemic reached another terrible milestone Wednesday when the government announced that more than 100,000 people had died of overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021. It is the first time that drug-related deaths have reached six figures in any 12-month period.

The people who died — 275 every day — would fill the stadium where the University of Alabama plays football. Together, they equal the population of Roanoke, Va.

The new data shows there are now more overdose deaths from the illegal synthetic opioid fentanyl than there were overdose deaths from all drugs in 2016.

Despite the efforts of governments, health-care providers, activists and others, the problem is growing much worse. The new figures, which are provisional but rarely change much in final tallies, represent a 28.5 percent increase from the same period a year earlier. The financial, social, mental health, housing and other difficulties of the covid-19 pandemic are widely blamed for much of the increase.