File Photo – Crystal Lake Fire Rescue | Photo: Alex Vucha / Lake and McHenry County Scanner

More Illinoisans have died from drug overdoses in the past year than ever before, according to the CDC. Experts attribute the increase to fentanyl and the pandemic.

There were an estimated 100,306 fatal overdoses in the United States over the 12 months through April 2021 — the most ever reported in a 12-month period and double the annual number of car accidents and firearm deaths combined.

The record number of deadly overdoses marks a 29% increase from the same period a year earlier and is more than double the number reported as recently as 2014.

Public health experts attribute the surge to the proliferation of fentanyl — a synthetic opioid reported to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine — as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has isolated many Americans struggling with addiction while reducing their treatment options and care resources.

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In Illinois, drug overdose deaths are on the rise, though at a slower pace than the national average.

There were an estimated 3,601 fatal overdoses in Illinois over the 12 months ending in April 2021, compared to 3,197 over the same period the year prior.

The 12.6% increase ranks as the seventh smallest of all 46 states that reported an increase in deadly overdoses.

Of all drug classifications identified by the CDC, including synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids, cocaine, heroin, psychostimulants like methamphetamine, and methadone, psychostimulants had the largest increase in fatalities in the state, up 56.2% from a year earlier.

The fatal drug overdose rate in Illinois now stands at 28.1 deaths for every 100,000 people, the 25th highest among all states.

Nationwide, the per capita fatality rate stands at 30.3 per 100,000.

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