So many people died of opioid overdoses last year that it decreased the life expectancy in America for the third year in a row. More than 70,000 citizens died of a drug overdose in 2017, mostly opioids, making it the leading cause of death for those 55 years of age and under, according to records just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The deaths from drug overdoses outpaced car accidents, gun violence and HIV deaths, said the CDC and can be attributed, in large part, to a growing use of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Fentanyl, which can be 100 times stronger than heroin, was the culprit in nearly 30,000 of the drug deaths last year. And it’s influence is growing. Fentanyl deaths shot up by 45 percent between 2016 and 2017.
“If we’re talking about counting the bodies, where they lie, and the cause of death, we’re talking about a fentanyls crisis,” Jon Zibbell, a senior public health scientist at the research group RTI International, said in a New York Times article.
A kilogram of heroin sells for $50,000 - $80,000, said Pat Trainor, a DEA official in Philadelphia. A dealer can make as much as $5 million off the same amount of fentanyl.
This photo shows a deadly dose of heroin compared to a deadly dose of fentanyl. Photo courtesy New Hampshire State Police Forensic Lab.