America Faces Record Number of Overdose Deaths in 2017

Last Updated on October 23, 2023

emergency building

New estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that drug overdoses killed about 72,000 Americans in 2017, with synthetic opioids being a primary factor for the drastic increase.1 To compare, in 2016, drug overdoses killed 63,632 Americans. 2

The opioid crisis was declared a national public health emergency last year, and analysts point to two major causes for the drastic increase in overdoses, with the latter being the most prominent:

  1. More people are using opioid drugs.
  2. Opioid drugs are getting more deadly.

Stronger, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, are now being mixed in with commonly abused drugs like methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine, which are then purchased on the black market. These drugs are much more potent, as fentanyl is highly concentrated and deadly in large doses. For unsuspecting drug users, these fentanyl-laced substances could easily cause an overdose or death.

According to a report from the New York Times, rural white populations were originally most affected by the opioid crisis, but now it’s spreading to older, urban black Americans, as fentanyl continues to expand into more drug markets across the country.3

U.S. Overdose Deaths Decreased in Some Areas of the Country

Although the newest preliminary drug overdose data from the CDC is discouraging, in some areas of the U.S., the overdose death rate has actually decreased, which may be a result of several factors such as:

  • The local drug supply
  • Local efforts to combat the opioid crisis
  • The availability of addiction treatment resources.

The New England region, for example, has seen fewer overdose deaths. Even Dayton, Ohio, which has struggled with high rates of opioid drug overdose deaths over the past several years, is seeing some progress.

Congress is Debating Several Different Opioid Bills in Response

With the number of drug overdose deaths continually climbing, Congress is reviewing several different opioid bills to address the nation’s opioid crisis. Currently, there are several different opioid bills being reviewed by Congress, many of which are aimed at reducing medical prescriptions of opioids, increasing the availability of addiction treatment for people who are addicted to opioids, expanding Medicaid and Medicare to help people pay for addiction treatment, funding studies on the use of opioids in medical care, and enhancing law enforcement approaches.4

If you or someone you know is addicted to opioids, it’s never too late to get help. Call Nova Recovery Center today to speak with our admissions team or to enroll in an addiction treatment program today.


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0329-drug-overdose-deaths.html
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/upshot/opioids-overdose-deaths-rising-fentanyl.html
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/upshot/congress-is-writing-lots-of-opioid-bills-but-which-ones-will-actually-help.html
Call Now Button