Just how bad is the opioid epidemic? The answer may surprise you.
Three reports released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday showed that life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped for the third year in a row.
CDC Director Robert Redfield reported the rapid increase of suicide rates and drug overdoses "largely" contributed to the overall decrease in life expectancy.
According to NPR, over 70,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2017, which is close to 10 percent more than the previous year.
ABC News reported that from 2016 to 2017, there was a 45 percent increase in deaths resulting from use of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, a drug more potent, cheaper and deadlier than heroin.
"Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the nation's overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable," Redfield said in a statement Thursday.
The reports showed trends in the opioid crisis related to gender, age and geographic location.
Statistically, more males die from overdose than females, according to CNN.
CNN also reported that adults between the ages of 25 and 54 had the most overdose deaths.
West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania had the highest rates of overdose deaths in 2017, per Vox.
"It's striking to see that there are more people who died of overdose in 2017 than at the peak of the HIV epidemic or the highest rates of traffic fatalities that we've seen in this country," Kathryn McHugh of Harvard Medical School told NPR.