(WWLP) – The CDC says that the U.S. surpassed 100,000 overdose deaths in 2021, with fentanyl and meth as key culprits.

According to experts, overdoses killed about a quarter as many Americans as COVID-19. People hope that we can start a dialogue locally about this ongoing crisis.

Norman Bolston of Chicopee said, “Nobody knows where it’s coming from. Really, the general population don’t know where any of that is coming from and most of them it doesn’t concern them until it happens to somebody in their family.”

107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the highest annual death toll on record. Overdose deaths increased 15% in 2021, up from an estimated 93,000 deaths the year before.

Divani Lopez of Holyoke told 22News, “Instead of other programs helping them out they’ll give them life substances. More pills instead of finding something or some kind of way to get them out of there.”

Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, was involved in the most overdose deaths in 2021, more than 71,000. With this growing concern, people hope that a dialogue can start within the Commonwealth to create resources and spread awareness.

Norman Bolston added, “I have hope that they do have more opioid resources. They need more, but they also need more education and more long term care. It’s the long term care facilities that are short around here.”

President Biden embraces harm reduction to help those with substance abuse. The approach aims to lower the risk of death and infection by offering drug users sterile equipment.

Divani Lopez said, “We need to help them emotionally and mentally and some people don’t want to get out from there or some that want to but it’s hard.”

The direct cause of the increase in overdoses is hard to pin point, but experts suggest that the pandemic played a large role due to social isolation, which could be attributed to relapses.