A new report from the National Center for Health Statistics says that more than 63,600 people lost their lives due to drug overdose in 2016. It was the most lethal year in the drug epidemic the nation has found itself faced with, and was more than the number of people who died of breast cancer that year.
According to the statistics, most of those overdose deaths were due to opioids. The painkillers in this class include fentanyl and heroin, obtained illegally, and legal medications such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. In 2016, overdose deaths totalling 42,249 involved these opioids. The total number of deaths related to these prescription medications outranks deaths caused by breast cancer by more than a thousand.
Officials indicate that the rise in deaths can be linked to synthetic opioids like tramadol and fentanyl. The number of deaths has risen each year since 2013 by a rate of 88 percent. The states facing the highest numbers of death due to overdose include Ohio, West Virginia and New Hampshire.
Twenty-two states in the country have a higher-than-average rate of overdose deaths. The most significantly at-risk population is those between the ages of 25 and 54. Data that has been obtained from 2017 is not official, but does indicate that there are no signs of the epidemic slowing.