Meth driving overdose deaths in West, fentanyl still nation's top killer

A small bag of straight Fentanyl on display at the State Crime Lab at the Ohio Attorney General's headquarters of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (File photo by Ty Wright for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

While fentanyl and heroin are still driving overdose deaths in the U.S., meth has emerged as one of the nation’s top culprits. In data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), methamphetamine ranked fourth in drugs involved in fatal overdoses nationwide, but in several regions meth was the number one killer.

According to the report, fentanyl was involved in 39 percent of the 70,000 overdose deaths that occurred in 2017, while heroin accounted for 23 percent and cocaine 21 percent. Methamphetamine accounted for 13 percent, but in western regions, that number jumped to 38 percent.

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The report, which was compiled using overdose death certificates, found that while fentanyl had a strong prevalence in deaths that occurred in New England, meth lagged behind at number 10, but it was nearly the opposite out West.

Approximately 1.6 million people reported using methamphetamine in 2017, according to, with an estimated 964,000 people aged 12 or older reporting a methamphetamine use disorder, an increase of over 300,000 from 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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