In 2015, 52,404 people in the United States died of a drug overdose, more than any previous year on record. Some 33,000—63 percent—of these deaths involved opioids, including heroin and prescription pain medicines.

Most people who died of overdoses involving opioids were white and male, though deaths among women are increasing at an alarming rate. Since 2000, drug overdose deaths have increased 137 percent; deaths involving opioids have increased 200 percent. The human impact of what the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has called an “epidemic” of overdose involving opioids is enormous, affecting tens of thousands of individuals and families. The toll is highest in rural America, where rates of death from opioid overdose are far higher than in metropolitan areas.

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