New CDC data indicates drug overdose deaths rose 12% in Louisiana from 2016 to 2017. Overdose deaths have contributed to the life expectancy rate declining for three straight years in the United States, a pattern not seen in 100 years. President and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, John Auerbach said this marks the first time that more than 1,000 people died in a single year from overdoses in Louisiana.

"That kind of increase in a single year is extraordinarily unusual and a reminder that this is a very serious epidemic and that we are not out of the woods yet," said Auerbach.

Auerbach said part of the reason for the increase in the deaths last year was the increase in the use of synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl, with Fentanyl deaths up 45% in a single year.

"That's a type of drug that is quite toxic and strong and difficult to determine by a drug user in regard to its strength," said Auerbach.

Auerbach said there are many efforts in the country showing promise in reversing the trend.

"I think that we've got the attention of the public and many people are working to improve this.  Among the things we know work is the expansion of Medicaid, as was done in Louisiana," said Auerbach.

More From News Talk 96.5 KPEL