Drug overdose deaths more than tripled among people age 65 and older during the past two decades while deaths from alcohol abuse increased more than 18% from 2019 to 2020, according to data published Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics.
More than 800,000 seniors suffered from drug addiction and 2.7 million suffered from alcohol addiction in 2020, according to separate data from the Health and Human Services Department.
In total, more than 5,000 seniors died of drug overdoses in 2020 and more than 11,600 succumbed to alcohol, according to the NCHS data.
While some drug deaths among seniors are from accidental misuse of drugs, many are suicides from overdosing on opioids, Kuerbis said.
Alcohol deaths were highest among American Indian seniors followed by Hispanics, white Americans, Black Americans and Asian Americans, according to the data.