Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. increased almost 30% in 2020, reaching a record high of 93,000, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The data revealed that the increase was largely due to the prevalence of fentanyl, which was found to be the cause of more than 60% of deaths.

“This is a staggering loss of human life," Brandon Marshall, a Brown University public health researcher who tracks overdose trends, told the Associated Press. 4093805689_5e145f60d8_b In total, the 93,000 deaths cost Americans about 3.5 million years of life, according to a New York Times analysis. In comparison, Pew Research Center found that coronavirus deaths in 2020 were responsible for about 5.5 million years of life. Photo: Creative Commons

While there is no evidence that more Americans started using drugs last year, officials told NPR that pandemic restrictions and lockdowns made access to treatment more limited, isolating those with drug addiction.

The nation was already struggling with its worst overdose epidemic, but clearly “COVID has greatly exacerbated the crisis,” Marshall said.

The data is tentative, with most states still reporting their tallies to the CDC. 

If current trends continue, illicit drugs will soon kill more Americans every day than COVID-19, NPR noted.