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Deaths from drugs, alcohol climb among seniors 

Drug overdoses and alcohol-induced deaths are on the rise among Americans aged 65 and older, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics.  

Drug overdose death rates within the age group more than tripled between 2000 and 2020, and alcohol-induced death rates went up 18 percent between 2019 and 2020 alone, according to the data

Among older Americans, non-Hispanic Black people experience the highest drug overdose death rates — with fentanyl and other synthetic opioid use on the rise.  

Opioids are the leading driver of drug overdose deaths in the U.S., according to the CDC.

American Indian or Alaska Native people experience the highest alcohol-induced death rates among those aged 65 and older, going up 46.5 percent between 2019 and 2020. 

The CDC notes that alcohol-induced death rates are higher overall among men of that age bracket than women, with men seeing figures four times higher when the age group is narrowed to 75 and older. 

CDC data released last month indicated that drug overdose deaths in the U.S. may be coming down after spikes during the COVID-19 pandemic and record highs last year.

The Biden administration earlier this year announced $1.5 billion to help states, territories and tribal lands deal with opioid overdoses and combat the country’s growing opioid epidemic.

Research indicates alcohol-induced deaths also surged during the pandemic and are climbing as a leading cause of preventable death.

Seniors in particular were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and data shows those older than 65 died at higher rates from the coronavirus this summer than any other age group.

The drug overdose and alcohol-induced death rates among older Americans are similar to pandemic-related spikes seen among younger Americans.


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