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How COVID-19 Made The Opioid Epidemic Deadlier

This illustration image shows tablets of opioid painkiller Oxycodon delivered on medical prescription taken on Sept. 18, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)
This illustration image shows tablets of opioid painkiller Oxycodon delivered on medical prescription taken on Sept. 18, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 90,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. last year, according to preliminary data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The toll — which is largely comprised of opioid-related deaths — is the highest it has been since the start of the opioid epidemic in the 1990s, a stark reminder of how the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated substance use.

In many cities, including Philadelphia, overdose deaths disproportionately affected Black residents.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young speaks with Dr. Utsha Khatri, an emergency medicine physician and fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where she researches substance use.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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