A record 72,000 U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2017
August 16, 2018 - Drug overdoses killed more than 72,000 U.S. citizens in 2017, a new record driven by the deadly opioid epidemic, according to new analysis.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that 72,287 people died from overdoses in 2017, an increase of about 10% from the previous year. Nearly 49,000 deaths were caused by opioids, with the main driver being the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl, which killed nearly 30,000 people.
The soaring overdose figures make the drug epidemic more deadly than peak year deaths from HIV, car crashes or gun fatalities, which have never killed as many people in a single year. Nearly 200 Americans died from overdoses every day in 2017.
Across the U.S. deaths have continued to rise, despite efforts to tackle the spread of opioid addiction through education, treatment, and policing.
The surge in fentanyl, synthetically produced and up to 50 times stronger than heroin, has led to a sudden rise in deaths. It is mostly brought into the U.S. from China, and sometimes mixed in with heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine without users knowing it.
The CDC’s statistics are preliminary because some deaths are still under investigation.