In 2016, the US state with the highest rate of drug overdose death was West Virginia

In 2016, West Virginia was the state with the highest rate of deaths due to overdoses at 52 per every 100,000 persons. Sadly, this isn’t a new trend for the state and in fact shows an increase in this statistic. West Virginia’s death rate due to overdose has been steadily increasing since 2012, and it led the nation in 2015 as well in terms of the number of overdose deaths, with 41.5 people dying for every 100,000. It also had the highest rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016, whose synthetic form, fentanyl, was deemed the deadliest drug that year (it accounted for over 19,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States).

It is not certain why such a small state is experiencing these troubling circumstances. Some researchers believe it is due to the increasing ease of availability of opioids, both synthetic and not, combined with West Virginia’s relatively small population (about 1.8 million in 2016).