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Two-thirds of drug deaths around the world were caused by opioids in 2017, and that proportion was even higher in the U.S., where overdose deaths reached a new high, according to a report from the United Nations.
The report found that 110,000 of 167,000 deaths from drug use disorders stemmed from opioids in 2017. In the U.S., overdose deaths spiked to 70,237 in 2017, up 10.4 percent compared to the year prior. Of those deaths, opioids accounted for 47,600, or 68 percent. The increased use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl is to blame for the dramatic increase in opioid-related deaths in 2017, according to the U.N.
In the U.S., 28,466 people died overdosing on synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2017, a 47 percent increase from 2016, according to the report.
Over 53 million people used opioids worldwide in 2017. However, North America had the highest prevalence of opioid use of any global region, according to the report.
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