Drug Overdose Deaths Reach 70,000 in U.S., Setting New Record

cemetery funeral

A new government report finds more than 70,000 people in the United States died of drug overdoses last year, setting a new record.

The drug overdose death rate in 2017 was 9.6 percent higher than the rate in 2016, The New York Times reports. Fentanyl is driving the increase in deaths, the article notes. Since 2013, the number of drug overdose deaths linked to fentanyl and similar drugs has increased from 3,000 to more than 28,000. Last year, deaths involving fentanyl rose more than 45 percent.

“Fentanyl deaths are up, a 45 percent increase; that is not a success,” said Dr. Dan Ciccarone, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. “We have a heroin and synthetic opioid epidemic that is out of control and needs to be addressed.”

Heroin & the Opioid Epidemic: From Understanding to Action

Heroin and other opioids are ravaging communities across America. Heroin-related deaths increased by more than five times between 2010 and 2017, and drug deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are seeing a sharp rise as well.