Just how bad is the opioid crisis in the US? So bad that drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for people under 50, the New York Times reports. State and county death records reveal an estimated 62,500 people died from drug overdoses last year, 19% more than in 2015. While the 2016 figure is only "a first look," as the CDC won't be able to figure out final numbers until December, it still shows "the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States," the Times notes. Some states saw an even greater rise in overdose deaths. Large increases were seen on the East Coast in Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maine, and Ohio, where fentanyl and its analogues have been increasingly emerging in drug seizures.
And in that state, drug deaths jumped by more than 25% from 2015 to 2016. A separate report from the Columbus Dispatch notes overdose deaths doubled in the state's six largest counties in that period. In a sign that the problem is only getting worse, Fox News notes Montgomery County has, not even midway through 2017, already passed last year's total overdose death tally. Some Western states, on the other hand, saw overdose deaths hold steady or even fall in 2016. That's likely because black tar heroin remains most prevalent there, as opposed to powdered heroin, which can be laced with fentanyl or carfentanil. Should powdered heroin reach Western states, drug deaths will increase, a doctor tells the Times. (How West Virginians are trying to battle the OD'ing epidemic.)