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Prescription painkillers, heroin, and other opioids killed more than 28,000 people in the United States last year, driving the highest number of drug overdose deaths on record.

The new data, published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, underscores the devastating effects of a opioid crisis that is ravaging communities both rich and poor.

Three-fifths of the country’s total drug overdose deaths came from illegal heroin use and opioids prescribed by medical professionals or obtained from other places, up 14 percent over 2013 and triple the rate in 2000.


The scourge didn’t discriminate: deaths from drug overdoses were up notably among both men and women, both whites and blacks, and both younger and older adults.

Deaths were highest in West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Ohio. Massachusetts — which is trying to take the issue head-on — also saw deaths rise significantly.