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Overdose deaths hit record high in U.S.

Oklahoma also seeing increase in overdose deaths
Posted at 6:08 PM, Nov 17, 2021

TULSA, Okla. — New data shows the number of drug overdose deaths in the US hit an all-time high.

More than 100,000 people died from a drug overdose from April 2020 to April 2021. It's a nearly 29 percent increase from the previous year.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, data from the CDC shows drug overdose deaths increased 23 percent in Oklahoma from March 2020 to March 2021.

As part of that increase, OSDH said it's seeing a continued rise in deaths from overdosing on meth, more so than overdoses on opioids.

Amy Cox, clinical director for the Tulsa Women and Children’s Center, a treatment facility for women addicted to drugs and alcohol, said they’re seeing a similar trend.

“99 percent of the ladies that we have, we see and we treat are meth addicts," Cox said.

Opioid-related overdoses are still rising in Oklahoma, mostly due to fentanyl. The state health department said fentanyl deaths increased 170 percent from 2019 through 2020.

Matthew Condley, a prevention specialist with the Tulsa Health Department, said they’re seeing fentanyl increasing in most drugs from meth and cocaine to marijuana.

“Whether it’s high school kids or people who want to party, and they go and they get a pill off the street and they just don’t know what’s in it," Condley said. "Increasingly there’s a chance it’s going to have fentanyl in it.”

The pandemic is also playing a role in the increase of overdose deaths.

“The fact that, there’s so much stress going on in the world," Cox said. "Financial stress and environmental stress and government stress. And so people are choosing to self-medicate that and mask that.”

“There’s a lot of people addressing the COVID pandemic still, and it’s still present very much," Condley said. "But now also we’re kind of starting to see what the overall damage COVID has done.”

OSDH also said the first half of 2021 shows a continued increase in drug overdose deaths compared to the first half of 2020.

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