Overdose deaths in the state of Connecticut hit a new record high in 2021, rising more than 12%, according to new projections released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday. The data collects and sorts all overdose deaths for a variety of drugs, including both natural and synthetic varieties of opioids and stimulants.

According to the CDC, opioids outpace all other forms of drug classes when it comes to deadly overdoses, both nationally and statewide. The biggest killers are synthetic drugs like fentanyl and tramadol, which were present in about 1,300 of the 1,500 overdose deaths last year.

That’s a jump of just about 150 since the same time the year before, more than 300 more deaths since before the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly twice the rate it was at the end of 2017.

Overdose deaths on the whole have been steadily rising over the last two and a half years, after holding steady throughout 2018. Since the start of 2019, they have jumped about 50%.

There is some good news buried with the bad. While opioid deaths have risen so dramatically, most other forms of drug overdoses have remained steady (and low) or decreased. Heroin has seen a significant decrease over the last five years. What once killed 476 in a year at its height in 2018 has dropped to just 115 deaths in 2021.

Connecticut also ranks slightly below the national average increase in overdose deaths. Nationwide, deaths rose 14.9% in 2021. Alaska saw the greatest percentage increase (75%), followed by Kansas (42.8%) and South Dakota (35.1%). Meanwhile, in New England, Vermont saw a 34% increase last year with 250 deaths. 

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An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment...

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