Overdose deaths jumped in 2017 nearly seven percent to a record 71,568, far more than traffic accident deaths, gun-related deaths or suicide, new estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed Thursday.
That was up from 67,114 in 2016 and just over 54,207 the previous year, according to the CDC, Presstv Reported.
Deaths increased in all but 12 of the 50 US states, with the most deaths occurring in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The US overdose crisis began in the early 2010s, mostly rooted in the overprescription of Oxycontin and other legal painkillers, leading to more than two million people becoming addicted.
But in the past three years, addicts have been forced to turn to heroin and the cheaper, far more potent fentanyl, as authorities have begun to regulate more closely prescription painkiller sales.
Data shows that synthetic opioids like fentanyl are involved now in nearly half of the overdose deaths, up from about one-third in just a year.
US President Donald Trump declared the nation’s drug epidemic a public health emergency last year, boosting funds for communities fighting addiction and the social impact, like children left without support after parents die from overdoses.
Communities across the country have expanded the use of overdose kits with Naloxone, a drug which can help revive victims of overdoses.