The Centers for Disease Control released new estimates for the numbers of overdose deaths experienced nationwide and in each state Thursday. The largest surges, percentage-wise, were in the southeastern state of North Carolina, up 22.5 percent, and the midwest farm state of Nebraska, up 33.3 percent. Because of its heroin-like effects, it is often abused and sold though illegal drug markets.
"States in the Western part of the USA have not seen the same kind of increases in drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids", she added, noting that it is more common to see psychostimulants such as methamphetamine involved in drug overdose deaths in states like Oregon, Nevada and Washington.
The CDC estimates around 72,000 people fatally overdosed.
New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show drug overdose deaths continued to climb in 2017, in almost all states.
Deaths involving cocaine also shot up significantly, putting the stimulant on par with drugs like heroin and the category of natural opiates that includes painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Carfentanil is an analog of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
The CDC's 2017 estimate is not a final count.
At the other end of the spectrum the plains states had some of the lowest death rates.
Last year, 64,000 died of drug overdoses, with 42,000 deaths related to opioids - including prescription pain pills, heroin and fentanyl. Previous year the Trump administration declared the epidemic a "public health emergency" but allocated no new funding for states to address the issue.
Deaths involving anti-anxiety medications Benzodiazepine mixed with opioids also increased. But pain patients and pain advocacy groups have lamented that the opioid epidemic being declared a national emergency has made it more hard to obtain the drugs they legitimately need to manage their severe pain, making the issue complicated. Carfentanil is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times stronger than morphine.