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Over 40% of adults say they know someone who died from drug overdose

Some of those who reported losing a loved one to an overdose said their death had a "significant or devastating effect that they still feel."
Over 40% of adults say they know someone who died from drug overdose
Posted at 8:56 AM, Feb 23, 2024

In a survey of more than 2,000 adults, 42% of Americans said they know at least one person who died due to a drug overdose. 

The data was released this week by the Rand Corporation. The American Journal of Public Health published its findings.

Rates of exposure were significantly higher in New England and in the East South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee) than in other parts of the nation, the Rand Corporation said. 

Additionally, 13% said that an overdose loss has disrupted their lives, and 4% said the death of a loved one had "a significant or devastating effect that they still feel."

“The experiences and needs of millions of survivors of an overdose loss largely have been overlooked in the clinical and public health response to the nation's overdose crisis,” said Alison Athey, the study's lead author. “Our findings emphasize the need for research into the prevalence and impact of overdose loss, particularly among groups and communities that experience disproportionate rates of loss.”

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Recent data shows that drug overdose deaths are rising throughout the U.S., and it has been a significant reason life expectancy has dropped nationally. 

In November, researchers said U.S. life expectancy dropped in 2021 to 76.1 years, falling from 78.8 years in 2019 and 77 years in 2020.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 106,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2021, which was up from around 92,000 in 2020. The number of drug overdose deaths doubled from 2016 to 2021. 

Government officials say nearly 80% of overdose deaths in 2021 were caused by illicit opioids like fentanyl. 

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