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Overdose deaths climbed by 40 percent in North Carolina in 2020, state health department says

Prescription opioids like OxyContin flooded Missouri during the past six years.
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Prescription opioids like OxyContin flooded Missouri during the past six years.

Overdose deaths in North Carolina increased by 40% in 2020 and continue to be on the rise.

The state Department of Health and Human Services announced the data Monday. It counted more than 3,300 deaths from overdoses — that's roughly nine per day. That's also nearly 1,000 more deaths than in 2019.


A full tally of overdose deaths in 2021 is not complete, but preliminary data shows a continued increase.

More than 70% of fatal overdoses in 2020 involved fentanyl, an illicit opioid.

State officials say the data in North Carolina mirrors national trends.

Nationwide, more than 81,000 people died from drug overdoses between June 2019 and May 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It was the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in 12 months.

In November 2021, the CDC reported that annual opioid deaths in the U.S. had topped 100,000. There were an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the country during a 12-month period ending in April 2021, an increase of 28.5% from the 78,056 deaths during the same period the year before.

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