Fatal drug overdoses up 30 percent in Washington state, data shows

Fatal drug overdoses up 30 percent in Washington state, data shows
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Fatal drug overdoses in Washington spiked by more than 30 percent in 2020, as people who struggled with the isolation and loss of routine amid the coronavirus pandemic turned to substance abuse more frequently.

According to preliminary data from the Washington Department of Health reported by The Seattle Times, the state reported 1,649 overdose deaths in 2020, which was up from 1,259 deaths the year before.

The 30 percent increase from 2019 to 2020 was twice as large as any other year in the last decade, according to the data.


More Washington residents died from drug overdoses in 2020 than any other year in the past decade, according to the data.

Fatal opioid overdoses, from prescription painkillers, heroin, fentanyl and other similar substances, increased at an even greater rate, soaring by nearly 40 percent, which is more than three times the rate of any other increase in the past 10 years, according to the statistics.

The state found that 1,140 people died from opioid overdoses in 2020, which was up from 827 deaths in 2019.

The department, according to the Times, expects the statistics to worsen, as they are still analyzing the preliminary data.

“It is reasonable to believe the psychological, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 led to an increase in drug use,” said Kristen Maki, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health, according to the Times.

The Times reported that “many more people” reached out for assistance with drug and alcohol problems in 2020, citing state data.

The stunning statistics come after preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published last month found that the U.S. drug overdose toll increased during the early months of the pandemic.

The agency found that more than 87,000 Americans died from drug overdoses between October 2019 and September 2020, which was a 29 percent increase from the 12-month period ending in September 2019.