The numbers are in and they’re even more shocking than expected. In the 12 months stretching from March 2016 to March 2017, at least 65,094 people died of overdoses in the U.S. An 18.8% increase from the previous year.

That’s one of the main findings in the Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts report recently filed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.).

The largest increases were in Washington DC (114.3%), Delaware (65.4%), Maryland (61.3%) and Florida (45.7%), which also happens to hold the dubious distinction of having the most overdose deaths (5,241) in the entire country.

Furthermore, five states showed increases of over 30%, including Pennsylvania (39.6%), Vermont (36.5%) and Ohio (34.6%); so did New York City (35.7%).

The crisis is so rampant that ‘drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death for Americans under 50,’ writes The New York TimesSheila Kaplan.

In recent years, according to Dr. Robert Anderson, chief of the C.D.C. mortality statistics branch, the deaths have been driven by overdoses of synthetic opioids, mostly fentanyl, rather than heroin.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University, was not surprised by the numbers, further writes Kaplan.

“We have roughly two groups of Americans that are getting addicted,” Dr. Kolodny said. “We have an older group that is overdosing on pain medicine, and we have a younger group that is overdosing on black market opioids.”

The number of teenagers becoming addicted to pain killers is going down, Dr. Kolodny adds. But those who are already addicted, in their 20s and 30s, are increasingly in danger because of the practice of mixing heroin with fentanyl or fentanyl being sold as heroin. Other government reports show that deaths by fentanyl have increased significantly in three years.

There were a few semi-bright spots among the 50 states, with downward overdose trends in Wyoming (-16.3), Utah (-16.2), Nebraska (-12), Mississippi (-7.8) and Hawaii (-4.3), New Mexico (-4.2%), California (-4.1), Oregon (-3.6) and Washington (-2.8) and, slightly, New Hampshire (-1.8).

While these numbers are most certainly encouraging, they can hardly be much consolation to the families of the over 8000 Americans who succumbed to drug overdoses in those states with the decreases.

(Above Image Courtesy DrugAbuse.com)

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