Drug death toll reaches unprecedented level in US

Provisional figures released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have revealed a staggering rise in drug related deaths for 2020.

During the recorded period, over 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose, an increase of 28.5 per cent on the previous year and an all-time high.

According to the campaign organisation Penington Institute, North America currently has the highest mortality rate in the world for drug abuse.

‘National crisis’

In the twelve month period ending April 2021, the CDC reported a total of 100,306 overdose deaths, at a rate of 275 people a day.

Three quarters of these deaths were attributed to opioids, including heroin, the synthetic drug fentanyl, and prescription pain relievers.

Drug deaths now exceed those caused by diabetes, car accidents or flu, and have almost doubled since 2016.

Responding to the figures, Anne Milgram of the US Drug Enforcement Administration said they represented “a national crisis” that “continues to get worse”.


Over 1,300 people died of drug misuse in Scotland in 2020, setting a new record high for the seventh year in a row.

It continues to have the worst record in Europe. The figures from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) vastly outstrip second-place Sweden, and are more than three-and-a-half times those in England and Wales.

In September, Scotland’s Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC announced that police officers who catch people with Class A drugs can issue a warning, rather than pursue a prosecution.

Drugs legislation is dealt with at Westminster, but the Scottish Government has control over implementing policy.

Also see:

Psychosis and ‘scromiting’ on the rise among young US cannabis users

Oregon votes in favour of decriminalising hard drugs

US drug driving fatalities rise after cannabis legalisation

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