Nearly 107,000 Americans died as a result of a drug overdose last year, an increase of nearly 16% over 2020, U.S. health leaders reported this week.
Meanwhile, life expectancy dipped to the lowest it’s been since 1996, according to final mortality data published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to final figures, 106,699 people died, up from 92,000 Americans who died from an overdose the year prior, the CDC reported.
Earlier provisional data suggested there were more than 107,000 overdose deaths last year. The numbers likely changed as additional death records came in, a CDC spokesman said. Also, provisional data includes all overdose deaths, while the final numbers are limited to U.S. residents, the spokesperson said.
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The report used the most recent data from the National Vital Statistics System. Other key findings include:
- In 2021, 106,699 drug overdose deaths occurred, resulting in an age-adjusted rate of 32.4 per 100,000 people in the United States.
- Adults aged 65 and over had the largest percentage increase in rates from 2020 through 2021.
- Drug overdose death rates increased for each race and Hispanic-origin group except non-Hispanic Asian people.
- The rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone increased 22%, while the rate of deaths involving heroin declined 32%.
- From 2020 through 2021, the rate of drug overdose deaths increased for deaths involving cocaine and those involving psychostimulants with abuse potential.
1 in 8 deaths due to COVID
The CDC on Thursday also released a final report for overall death across the nation in 2021. More than 3.4 million Americans died that year, more than 80,000 than the year prior.
Nearly 1 in 8 deaths in 2021 were due to COVID-19, up from about 1 in 10 deaths the year prior. It was the third leading cause of death. Heart disease remained the leading cause of death, followed by cancer. About half of all deaths last year were from these three causes.
Accidental injury, including drug overdoses, was the fourth leading cause of death, the agency reported.
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Earlier this month, the White House launched a national data dashboard that for the first time tracks the rate of nonfatal opioid overdoses across the country, which health experts say will help accurately target resources to areas hit hard by the crisis.
Life expectancy dips to lowest in 25 years
Meanwhile, Americans’ life expectancy dropped to about 76 years and 5 months.
The coronavirus was a major contributor to the decline in life expectancy, now nearly two and a half years shorter than it was when the pandemic began. After a drop of 1.8 years in 2020, another cut of 0.6 years last year brought U.S. life expectancy in 2021 down to 76.4 years.
The final CDC mortality data shows that between 2020 and 2021, overall death rates increased for all age groups except infants younger than one.
Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez and The Associated Press.
Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.
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