By Kayla Rivas / Fox News
There were more than 81,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in the year leading up to May 2020, which surpassed record highs, according to a grim update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC said fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were mainly fueling the spike in overdose deaths, which increased 38% from the prior 12-month period. Almost every U.S. jurisdiction -- 37 of 38 -- with available data on opioids reported an uptick in related deaths. Fatal overdoses surged 50% in nearly half of the jurisdictions, and 10 states throughout the West listed a 98% rise in deaths attributed to synthetic opioids.
A top official with the Drug Policy Alliance, a coalition working to reframe drug policy, told Fox News the figures offer a glimpse into worsening figures as the pandemic progressed beyond May.
Vakharia said the Drug Policy Alliance is urging the incoming Biden administration to prioritize a "health-centered approach over past punitive approaches that have failed our communities" and increase access to services like "like harm reduction and medications for substance use disorder."