Drug overdoses killed 72,000 Americans last year, a 10% increase from 2016 and the highest death toll from drugs in U.S. history. These preliminary findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reflect the ongoing public health crisis of the opioid epidemic and the spread of especially dangerous synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
In October 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. The declaration followed an approximately fivefold increase in drug overdose deaths involving opioids from 2000 to 2016. Over that period, more than 600,000 Americans died from drug overdoses.
The death toll from drug overdoses in 2016 alone surpassed AIDS-related deaths in the epidemic’s worst year in 1995 and the entirety of American lives lost in the Vietnam War. While the opioid epidemic has taken lives and torn through nearly every community in America, some parts of the country have been affected far worse than others. The most vulnerable areas are often those with low incomes and low educational attainment as well as high poverty and unemployment.
To determine the counties with the worst drug problem in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of drug-induced deaths — these include unintentional overdoses, suicide, homicide, and undetermined causes — per 100,000 residents for the period 2012 to 2016 with data from the CDC’s WONDER web application.