Overdose deaths soared to a record 93,000 last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States government reported on Wednesday.
That estimate far eclipses the high of about 72,000 drug overdose deaths reached the previous year and amounts to a 29 percent increase.
“This is a staggering loss of human life,” Brandon Marshall, a Brown University public health researcher who tracks overdose trends, told the Associated Press.
The nation was already struggling with its worst overdose epidemic but clearly “COVID has greatly exacerbated the crisis,” he added.
Lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions isolated those with drug addictions and made treatment harder to get, experts have said.