North Dakota reports jump in drug overdose deaths

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FILE – This photo provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah and introduced as evidence in a 2019 trial shows fentanyl-laced fake oxycodone pills collected during an investigation. In a resumption of a brutal trend, nearly 71,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2019 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a new record high that predates the COVID-19 crisis. The numbers were driven by fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids, which accounted for 36,500 overdose deaths. (U.S. Attorneys Office for Utah via AP)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota recorded the most deaths from drug use in a decade last year as the pandemic caused isolation and fentanyl became widely available.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that the state recorded 118 drug-related deaths in 2020 — a 49% jump from the previous year, according to the Division of Vital Records.

Police and drug treatment counselors say social isolation due to the pandemic increased substance abuse problems, while fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, has made overdoses more common.

State lawmakers have attempted to address overdose deaths in recent years.

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