SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — Alarming new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a drastic increase in drug overdose deaths across the country. Louisiana ranks in the top 5 states with the highest increase of fatalities.

“On April 21 of 2020, at that time, I predicted that there was going to be a significant increase in problems with substance use disorder,” said Dr. Nicholas Goeders, Director of the Louisiana Addiction Research Center at LSU Health Shreveport.

“We already know that stress increases addiction, and you have something like COVID-19 — obviously there’s going to be an increase in addiction.”

In 2020, Louisiana saw 1,925 deaths compared to 2019, with 1,304 — totaling a 47.6% increase.

“A big part of this overdose deaths, especially what we’re seeing in Louisiana, is due to opioids,” Goeders said. “This is also just an estimate. I have a feeling it’s going to be higher than that, because these are just the estimated amounts. I think when we finally are able to count the number of deaths of people overdosing, it may even be higher than what we’re seeing now.”

Aside from fighting a global pandemic, mental health crises are one of the many long term effects impacting millions across the United States. A deteriorating state of mind can lead to addiction.

“We now have to come up with ways to address this issue, to help people to recover from the substance use disorder,” Goeders said.

“It’s gotten to a point now where we have to pay attention to it. There are too many lives at risk.”