Drug overdose deaths soared last year, fueled by heroin and synthetic opioids, reducing life expectancy for the second year in a row, according to two new reports.
Last year, 63,600 people died from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. The age-adjusted overdose death rate rose 21 percent, to 19.8 per 100,000 in 2016 from 16.3 per 100,000 in 2015.
The data suggests the epidemic, which has already ravaged countless communities, is becoming even deadlier. Reports have chronicled how potent synthetics such as fentanyl are becoming more common — and more dangerous.
Overdose deaths involving non-methadone synthetic opioids doubled last year, surpassing those that involved only heroin. The rates were 6.2 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively. However, those numbers are not perfectly comparable because there's overlap between them. Someone with a combination of drugs in their systems would be placed in both categories.