The CDC released its annual data on drug deaths this week, and if anyone was hoping for an improvement in the public health scourge of opioid-related fatalities, they won’t find it in these grim numbers. Overall, drug overdoses rose 21% to 63,600 last year, fueling a decline in life expectancy for the second year in a row.
Here are five notable statistics:
- Opioid-related deaths are still rising: Despite increased focused on the crisis over the last few years, 42,249 people died from opioids in 2016, a 28% increase over 2015.
- Synthetic opioids are driving the surge: The rate of deaths from this class of drug—which includes fentanyl—doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 3.1 to 6.2 per 100,000 people.
- Heroin deaths are also soaring: Overdose deaths from heroin now surpass those of commonly prescribed drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. The rate of deaths from heroin increased 19% on average from 2014 to 2016.
- Prescription drug deaths are ticking up, too: Though lower than the rate of deaths from synthetic opioids, the rate of deaths from natural and semisynthetic opioids (which includes oxycodone and hydrocodone) increased from 3.9 in 2015 to 4.4 in 2016.
- West Virginia is uniquely vulnerable: The state had the highest reported rate of fatal overdoses, with 52.0 per 100,000 people. That’s significantly higher than the national average of 19.8%, and measurably worse than the three worst states behind it: Ohio (39.1), New Hampshire (39.0), and Pennsylvania (37.9).
Read the CDC’s full report here.