Nearly 90,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017. That’s a record high, according to a report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Including suicide, the number of drug overdose deaths in 2017 was about 66,000, which is up from 2017, when 59,000 died, according to the CDC.
The numbers reached their highest point in July 2017, when more than 10,000 people died of a drug overdose. In September, the number of overdose deaths again surpassed 10,000.
The opioid epidemic that has killed people across the country is growing worse, the report said.
More than 80% of people who died from overdose in 2017 died from a drug that has a street name, including prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl.
Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths caused by heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioids has quadrupled, and the death rates have nearly quadrupled. The rate of death related to opioid overdoses has nearly doubled since 2016, reaching a record high in 2017, according to the report.
Two-thirds of overdose deaths in 2017 involved a different drug than was detected at the time of death. Half of deaths occurred in someone in a residential setting. People were most likely to die in a home where someone was abusing drugs, and 10% were in hotels or other nonresidential facilities.
The CDC said overdose deaths decreased by 2% from 2016 to 2017, and the rate of death decreased by about 4%.
In addition to a growing number of deaths, the type of drug in the death is changing.
In the report, the CDC said that deaths involving fentanyl are more lethal than heroin.
The report analyzed coroners’ records and deaths data from the National Death Index, which is collected by the CDC.
“Each year, every family who loses a loved one to the opioid epidemic learns something new,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield. “This report shows that we need to prepare to fight these devastating diseases.”
The increased mortality rate for illicit drug overdoses was driven by fentanyl. Fatal overdoses involving fentanyl were at a record high in 2017, compared with 2016, and killed more than 10,000 people.
Fentanyl deaths in 2017 were about 400% higher than in 2016, and they were about five times higher than in 2015. The drug was detected in more than 1.7 million overdose deaths between 2000 and 2017.