The Centers for Disease Control released new estimates for the numbers of overdose deaths experienced nationwide and in each state Thursday.
The overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids rose sharply from 2016, while deaths from heroin, prescription opioid pills and methadone fell, the CDC said. "We have had a massive increase in the amount of drugs that are laced with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, so I'm not too shocked there was a rise in the data".
Following a trend from previous years, the highest death rates were seen in West Virginia, with 58.7 overdose deaths for every 100,000 residents. Deaths involving natural opiates, including oxycodone and hydrocone seem to have plateaued. From 2002 to 2017, the CDC estimates a 4.1-fold increase in the total number of deaths due to all types of opioid drugs.
Breaking out the numbers in greater detail, they found that overdose deaths involving prescription pain relievers - exclusive of synthetic opioids - almost doubled from 2002 to 2011, yet have remained relatively stable since.
Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues killed 1,252 people in North Carolina in 2017, much higher than 543 deaths in 2016, according to data from the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME).
At the other end of the spectrum the plains states had some of the lowest death rates.
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Nationally, 72,000 people died from overdoses in 2017, and that number is expected the increase by 6.6 percent in 2018.
President Donald Trump has declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, but stopped short a year ago of declaring a state of emergency that would've given states access to funding from the federal Disaster Relief Fund.
Efforts to curb excess opioid use have been launched by Cigna, Walgreens, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Initially, the opioid epidemic mainly affected white populations in rural areas.
He said that over-the-counter medications including acetaminophen, a non-opioid pain reliever, or loperamide, an anti-diarrheal, are also abused while ingestion of Tide detergent pods, K2 and "bath salts" are an emerging concern.