|CDC chart; click the image to enlarge it.|
In raw numbers, that translates to more than 63,600 overdose deaths in 2016, up from 52,400 in 2015. Many are driven by opioids (such as prescription painkillers or heroin) or synthetic opioids like fentanyl or carfentanil. Overdoses from synthetic opioids rose 88 percent from 2013 to 2016, the CDC reports.
"According to the new report, drug-overdose deaths were highest in West Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania," Alam reports. "Though it is not entirely clear why, experts suggest it may be related to drug trafficking patterns, population characteristics, frequency of opioid prescriptions and delayed prescription monitoring systems in these states."
Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the CDC, noted that the trend seems likely to continue for 2017, and that if life expectancy decreases for a third year in a row, it will be the first time such a thing has happened since the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1916, 1917 and 1918.